Math Stories

The Importance of Math Stories

Denise Gaskins is a homeschooler who also occasionally teaches math at her homeschool coop.  She feels that real learning happens with math stories or math word problems.  I really like her ideas about teaching math. She emphasizes learning the math concept first. I thought I was doing that with the math games.  But, when I read her book “Let’s Play Math”, I realized there was room for improvement.

I read a review by Denise Gaskins where she compared Math Mammoth to Singapore Math.  Although, I really like Singapore Math, I really use it as a guide. Then, I go and figure out a game to play to introduce my daughter to a new concept.  After she’s comfortable playing the game, then I go back to Singapore Math and have her do their workbook.  Also Singapore Math is twice as expensive as Math Mammoth.  Since I’m more hands on with her education, We’ll try Math Mammoth for 3rd grade.  I hope to find no significant difference between Singapore Math and Math Mammoth.

One idea I got from Denise was that it is important to tell stories, math word problems. She wanted her daughter to understand what 3/4 of 5/8 was.  Denise used a tray of brownies cut into pieces and explained with a story how you can get to the answer.

My daughter is not able to do this problem yet.  But, I got something out of it that helped her anyway.  I changed the story for my daughter so that she could understand the relationship between eighths and fourths. We drew a pan of brownies with chalk on the ground. Then, I cut the brownies into 8 pieces.  But, I explained that first some friends came over and ate half of the tray. We discussed the relationship between halves fourths and eighths. Then, we discussed how one more friend snuck in and ate one more piece. Then we discussed how 1/4 was related to 1/8. Finally, there were 3 pieces left.

After that story, she wanted to draw with the colored chalk.  And, that was basically then end of the math word problem.

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