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  • Writer's pictureCarrie S. Cutler


Updated: Mar 13, 2021

If you read my blog regularly, you know I’m the mom of a BUNCH of kids. It’s an odd-numbered year for my kids’ ages and six of them are prime numbers—ages 5, 7, 9, 13, 15, 17, 19, and 23. Whew! Prime number heaven! This photo captures the fun that my four teenagers have together.

If you’re a parent like me, you want to know what’s going on in your kids’ math classrooms. What are they supposed to be learning? If you’re a teacher like me, you want to share learning goals with parents clearly and concisely. How can you make objectives jargon-free and understandable?

In the best of circumstances, it can be tough to keep it all straight! And with so many demands on teachers’ and parents’ time, communication about math goals can get lost in the mix.

We need a brief resource that distills the objectives into language parents can easily understand with simple activities that bring the objectives to life.

The four posts in this series aim to do just that—introduce teachers to shareable TABLES that summarize the BIG MATH IDEAS for each grade. (*Note: If anybody wants to offer to do translate these tables, message me. Thanks!)

It’s helpful to know how math content is organized. Every year, kids learn a little bit more about each topic. These topics, sometimes called strands or content areas in math, include:

· Number and Operations

· Measurement and Data

· Algebra, and

· Geometry.

Let’s dedicate the first post in the series to…

Number and Operations

Number (that’s not a typo—there’s no “s” on the end) refers to all the things related to our glorious number system. It includes counting and the operations (+, -, x, ÷) of course, but also judging the reasonableness of our computations, estimating, using mental math, place value, and much more.

Number includes understanding how addition and subtraction relate to one another and how multiplication and division work inversely. Number includes acquiring basic facts and understanding the effects of the commutative, associative, identity, and distributive properties and how they help us develop fluency with operations. Number takes in fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios, and proportions.

Number also involves appreciating how all these pieces work in harmony to

move us along our math journey.

Number. Is. Massive. And it’s massively important as a bridge to all other math strands.

In my new book, Math-Positive Mindsets: Growing a Child’s Mind without Losing Yours, I summarize the BIG IDEAS FOR NUMBER AND OPERATIONS FOR KINDERGARTEN THROUGH GRADE 5 in a snazzy table that spans 4 pages. Here is a sneak peek of the first 2 pages of the table:

Notice that I pair concise objectives with simple math activities parents can use to support children’s understanding of the learning goal. If the meaning of an objective is fuzzy, the activity brings additional clarity. (Kindergarten teachers and parents, I haven't left you out. I have a separate table for kinder. I'll share it in a separate post. So much going on in kinder counting!)

Let's take a closer look at the table. Base Ten Riddles (p. 139 above) is a 2nd grade activity that provides practice with place value. It can be completed at home or at school. Many of the activities listed in the tables are also found on my YouTube channel offering parents and kids another format for understanding the activity and objective. Here is a video of Base Ten Riddles I made with my son, McGregor.

Knowing WHAT kids are learning positions parents as partners in their kids’ learning. With a quick glance, we can see the BIG IDEAS FOR NUMBER AND OPERATIONS and simple activities that bring the objectives to life.

For more ideas to help parents promote math-positive learning at home, check out my blog post: 5 Simple Steps to Becoming the Math-Positive Parent You've Always Wanted to Be. It's a great one to link in a class or school newsletter!

  • I hope you'll check out the full tables in my book. (Subscribers to my site receive a coupon code for 25% off the book!)

  • Click here for 20-Minute Math Activities that help even the most math-panicked parents see how simple, hands-on activities build math-positive mindsets along with mathematical understanding.

  • Watch for my next blog post for sneak peeks of measurement and data tables.

  • Have a math-positive day!

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