Author Archives: Star Bright Books

Support Your Child’s Math Development, Part 2: Preschool and Up

In last week’s math blog post we talked with Audrey Martínez-Gudapakkam, an associate researcher at TERC who evaluates K-12 STEM education programs and develops programs for Spanish-speaking families, about specific ways parents and caregivers can introduce math to their babies and toddlers.

 

In this post, Audrey and Marlene Kliman, a senior scientist at TERC, explain how adults can support a child’s learning as they enter school and begin interacting with math in the classroom. Marlene notes that as children begin working with addition, subtraction, and other math concepts, they develop a relationship with math that can follow them throughout their lives. Fostering a positive attitude toward math is one of the most important things an adult can do for their child.

 

Here are some suggestions for two age groups.

 

Children Ages 3-5

As children get older, they make connections to math concepts by talking through what they are doing and why. Asking children open-ended questions, Marlene says, helps them develop a deeper understanding of how math works instead of a right or wrong answer.

 

Audrey offers these ideas for engaging children in activities full of math learning.

 

Size and Measurement

“When we sort clean laundry, we talk together about clothing sizes for each person and how big belongs to Daddy, medium-sized is for Mommy, and small is for you,” Audrey says. “As we pick up clothing, I ask my daughter, ‘How do you know it is small, medium, or large? Check to see if it fits you.’ She can measure it by putting it on top of herself and measuring it against her body.”

Sorting laundry is a great time to talk with children about sizes. (from Rosa’s Very Big Job)

Numbers and Counting

While preparing food, Audrey talks about numbers with her daughter. She asks, “How do you know how many tomatoes we have?” Then she says, “Okay, let’s count them together.” As Audrey explains, “Counting physical objects helps them understand the concept of the number of elements in a set or group.”

 

Sequencing

While getting dressed or doing other routine activities, Audrey asks her daughter, “What do you need to put on first, second, third . . . last?” Or, “What do you do first, second, third . . . last?” Audrey says, “This awareness of steps in a process helps her learn about sequences, which in school can help her with computer programming.”

 

Children Ages 6 and Older

When children enter first grade, adults can help their children with homework by asking open-ended questions that prompt them to explain their thought process. Audrey says, “Whenever my daughter is doing her math homework, even if she gets the right answer, I always ask her, ‘How do you know? Show me how you know.’ I try to avoid telling her she’s wrong when she makes a mistake (which is hard because sometimes just by the tone of my voice she guesses it!). Instead, I try to help her notice the mistake herself as she checks her work, or we check the work using a different strategy. That way she can see where she made a mistake. Sometimes I might have her draw it or demonstrate it for me.”

 

Some other ideas Audrey suggests are:

  • Play a Game: “I tell my daughter, ‘I have a total of ten stones.’ I put three on the table and then have her explain how she knows how many stones are hiding in my hand.”
  • Count in Groups: “When we do counting, I ask her to count in groups of two, five, ten, et cetera. I tell her, ‘You know that your hand has five fingers, so you don’t have to count each one since you already know they add up to five.’”
  • Teach about Fractions: “At school my daughter is learning about quarters and halves so when I give her a cookie I ask her how she knows if a half or a quarter is more. Then I show her what each looks like by cutting the cookie.”

Several small parts can add up to one HUGE whole. (from Small Medium Large)

How do these strategies benefit kids for math learning and beyond? Audrey explains that by learning through practice, children discover they can continue to improve their math skills. When adults praise kids for not giving up even if they feel frustrated, it helps them develop social emotional skills for managing strong feelings. And children who can entertain themselves for long periods of time with building or creative projects develop strong reasoning and concentration skills.

 

Most importantly, instilling a positive attitude toward math helps children enjoy learning about it throughout their lives. “At one point,” Audrey says, “my daughter said, ‘I love math, and when I grow up I want to be a mathematician!’” This is the kind of enthusiasm we all want for our kids!

Fantastic Gifts for Fantastic Dads

 

Dads are great!

 

Whether they’re pretending to be an astronaut chasing little aliens, teaching proper ball-throwing techniques, helping with homework, or doing the cooking and laundry with their own flair, today’s fathers are playful, involved, and engaged. One of the best ways for dads to spend time with their kids is snuggling up and reading together! These special times build strong, lasting bonds and benefit kids in so many ways!

 

Books make wonderful Father’s Day gifts that kids and their dads can share long after the holiday. Here you’ll find books that are just right for wrapping up a perfect day with dad! There are board books for little ones from ages 2 to 5, chapter books for kids ages 5 to 9, and a novel for young readers ages 9 to 12.

Daddy’s Busy Day

Written by Miriam Cohen | Illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu
Ages 2 – 4

In this sweet story, a child spends days with Dad while Mom goes off to work. As the little one says “Good bye, Mommy,” Daddy dishes up a breakfast favorite. The day flies by as they make chores fun, visit the park, have lunch, and dance. When Mom gets home, it’s time to cook dinner, take a bath, hear a story, and finally drift off to sleep with kisses from Mommy and Daddy. Gender neutral, this book is perfect for all children.

 

 

A Fish to Feed

Written by Ellen Mayer | Illustrated by Ying Hwa-Hu
Ages 1 – 3

 

            

Come along with a dad and his little one as they add a new pet to the family! On their walk downtown, they happily talk together about all the fish they see on their way to the pet store—a fish to wear on a T-shirt, a toy fish to play with, and finally a real fish to love…and feed! Kids will love peering and pointing through the die-cut holes that encourage interactive reading and learning. Gender neutral, this book is perfect for all children. Also available in a Spanish/English edition

 

The Jake Series

Written by Ken Spillman | Illustrated by Chris Nixon
Ages 5 – 9

Jake’s Concert Horror | Jake’s Cooking Craze | Jake’s Gigantic List | Jake’s Balloon Blast | Jake’s Great Game | Jake’s Monster Mess

Jake and his dad are on their own in these funny, madcap adventures that younger kids will love to hear and independent readers will want to devour one after the other. Loveable Jake has huge ideas and a colossal desire to make them all come true! When things turn out…well…a little surprising, Jake can count on his dad for a sympathetic ear and encouragement.

Here’s a chapter-book series that all kids—voracious readers and reluctant readers alike—will get excited about. Come on! Join Jake’s world!

Jake’s Concert Horror

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When Jake is cast as the prince in the class play The Little Mermaid and learns he’ll have to kiss Stephanie (even if it is pretend), he thinks he’d rather be tied to an ants’ nest and force-fed tripe during every school vacation. He gamely learns his lines and gives his character princely manners, but that looming kiss is nerve-wracking! What will Jake do when the curtain rises and every eye is on him?

 

 

Jake’s Cooking Craze

star-bright-books-jake's-cooking-crazeJake’s caught the cooking bug. When his first creation—a boiled sweet potato mashed with baked beans and covered in an everything-in-the-refrigerator-door sauce—isn’t a culinary success, he takes lessons from Nana. Their chocolate mousse, pizza, and mango ice cream are delish, and Jake’s sure he’s got the hang of cooking. So what if his own chocolate mousse is more of a chocolate mess; it still tastes good! Jake’s convinced he can win the school’s cooking competition, and he wants to make something no one—especially Stephanie—will dare. But with only one ingredient from home allowed, what will Jake choose from his garden?

 

 

Jake’s Great Game

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Jake knows he’s going to be awesome at soccer. He’ll be super-fast and much too tricky for the opposing teams. But once he’s out on the field, soccer’s not as easy as it looks. Jake’s dribbling looks like bad passing and his passing looks like bad dribbling. The ball just won’t cooperate. Is it possible there’s a position that’s just the right fit for Jake?

 

 

Jake’s Gigantic List

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Jake’s birthday is right around the corner and Dad doesn’t know what to get him, so Jake starts a list. Pretty soon the list has 352 things on it, including #65: snow that doesn’t melt, complete with sled; #66: my own beach; #69: friendly pirate; #324: real dinosaurs—no fossils; and #325: fish tank with piranhas. There’s no way he’s getting any of these! But does Auntie Lyn find a way?

 

 

Jake’s Monster Mess

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Jake’s dad is throwing a dinner party, and he wants Jake to clean his room before the guests arrive. At first Jake’s room is only slightly messy, but putting away his underwear starts an avalanche of toys, furniture, and dust that keeps Jake hopping all day. He’s determined to put everything in its proper place—and help others in the process—but his dad and their guests are in for a surprise!

 

 

Jake’s Balloon Blast

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Jake has always wanted to fly! Not in an airplane—that’s basically riding a bus in the sky—but for real. He knows he can do it—he just needs to figure out how. The pair of wings he builds won’t hold him, and his other plans don’t work out so well either. Then he remembers the helium tank his dad has! He enlists the help of his best friend Jonah and soon Jake is pumped and ready to go. Finally, he achieves his dream—with topsy-turvy results!

 

 

The Amazing Spencer Gray

Written by Deb Fitzpatrick
Ages 9 – 12

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Spencer Gray is twelve—finally old enough to join his father in his glider, the Drifter. Going up and soaring is amazing! Then disaster strikes the glider in mid-air, leaving his father badly injured. Spencer will have to be nothing short of amazing to help his dad in this compelling story of survival, family, and resilience.