In first-grade math, your child will be learning shapes and patterns, how numbers work, and the language of math — like “addition” and “subtraction.”

Help your child improve math skills at with these four easy games:

PATTERN GAME

What you need: A pen and paper or a pile of coins.
What your child learns: How to understand and make patterns.
How to do it: Start by drawing a simple pattern with basic shapes, such as a star, a circle, and a square. Now ask your child to continue the pattern. Once she does, it’s her turn to start a pattern that you continue. If she needs more of a challenge, do a three- or four-part pattern, such as a star, a circle, a square, and a diamond.

You can also play this game with a pile of coins. Lay them out in a pattern, such as: two nickels, one penny, one dime. Ask your child to repeat the pattern and then start her own.

SHAPE HUNT

What you need: A pen and paper.
What your child learns: How to recognize and name different shapes.
How to do it: In the house or outside, go on a shape hunt and make it into a game by seeing who can point out the most shapes along the way. Or pick a shape (to make it more challenging, pick a shape like a diamond or octagon) and see who can find the most. Write down how many of each shape you both found. The winner is the one who finds the most shapes.

COUNT THE MONEY

What you need: A pile of spare change (with pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters) and a pair of dice.
What your child learns: To understand the value of coins and learn how to count them.
How to do it: Have your child roll the dice. She wins the same number of pennies as the number of dots showing on the dice — make sure she counts the dots for practice. When she has five pennies, she turns them in for one nickel. Two nickels turn into a dime, and so on. Whoever hits one dollar first (another chance to practice counting to 100!) wins.

COUNTING COMPETITION

What you need: Nothing but your voices!
What your child learns: To count to 100, forwards and backwards. This is a helpful game for first-graders, who should be able to count up to 100 by the end of the year.
How to do it: Count together in the car, waiting for the bus, or standing in line at the store. Time it and see how fast your child can get to 100 . If your child is up for the challenge, count backwards as fast as possible.

 

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