Category Archives: Family

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!

A Sweet Story for Sweet Dreams

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Good Night, Little Sea Otter

Written by Janet Halfmann | Illustrated by Wish Williams

Ages 3 – 6

With their sweet faces and mischievous, playful personalities, sea otters may be one of the most “kid-like” animals on the planet. And, like children, they sure know how to have fun! Underwater, they glide, twist, twirl, and tumble with the same enthusiasm as kids on a playground, popping up to float on their backs like little ones lying on the ground to watch the clouds float by.

 

Sea otters also seem to know all about friendship—holding hands, playing in groups, and even sharing snacks (ingeniously prepared and served on their tummies!) When it’s naptime or bedtime, little sea otters are as snuggly as kids—or are kids as snuggly as little sea otters? Either way, both love to cuddle in a warm hug and a cozy blanket as they drift off to sleep.

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Good Night Little Sea Otter text copyright Janet Halfmann, Illustration copyright Wish Williams.

Janet Halfmann’s and Wish Williams’ adorable Good Night, Little Sea Otter delights in the lively antics of these loveable sea animals as the baby sea otter can’t go to sleep without saying “good-night” to all of her friends. As Little Sea Otter calls out to the seals, seagulls, snails and sea slugs, the fish, crabs, sea stars and sea urchins, they in turn are excited to say “good-night” to her as well. But as the gently rocking waves, twinkling stars, and Mama’s whispers quiet the baby, Little Sea Otter still feels she’s left someone out. Who can it be?

 

Young readers will be enchanted by this charming and joyful bedtime story that reassures them that even as they are going to sleep, they have a world of friends waiting and happy to greet them in the morning.

 

Sweet dreams!

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Good Night Little Sea Otter text copyright Janet Halfmann, Illustration copyright Wish Williams.

Good Night, Little Sea Otter is also published in these bilingual editions:

 

Arabic/English | Burmese Karen/English | Burmese/English | Chinese English/English | French/English | Hmong/English | Navajo/English | Portuguese/English | Spanish/English | Spanish/English (Board Book) 

 

Good Night, Little Sea Otter is available on the Star Bright Books Website:

Hardcover | Paperback | Board Book

 

And with these booksellers:

Amazon | IndieBound

 

You can connect with author Janet Halfmann on:

Her Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

Download These Fun Good Night, Little Sea Otter Activities!

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Here are the Solutions: Word Search Solution | Maze Solution

Sharing Time with Grandparents Has Many Benefits

 

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Images are from these Star Bright Books titles – Top Row: Read to Me; Loving Me; Grandma is a Slowpoke. Bottom Row: Loving Me; Read to Me; Cake Day

 

The relationship between a child and grandparents is a special bond that grows in the heart and provides comfort, laughter, and memories that last a lifetime. Spending time with grandparents benefits children in many ways. As family, grandparents offer unconditional love and support. When they tell stories about their lives, they connect children to other relatives and give them a sense of belonging, now and as a part of the family’s history. And, of course, kids are thrilled to learn those humorous nuggets from their parents’ past.

 

Common history isn’t the only thing grandparents can pass down to their grandchildren. Afternoons or weekends spent together are perfect times for grandma or grandpa to share and teach favorite hobbies or special talents. Even the slower pace of an older person’s life can have a positive effect on kids. With today’s busy schedules, kids need downtime to think, to assimilate what they see, learn, and do, and to relax. Taking walks, baking, or reading together can give grandparents and children time to talk and observe the world around them in a close-up, unhurried way.

 

Grandparents also gain from listening to and interacting with their younger family members. The world is changing in so many ways, with technology often taking the lead. Children make wonderful teachers themselves, proud to show off what they know and what they can do. Keeping up with current culture by listening to a grandchild’s favorite music, going to the movies or watching funny Internet videos together, and discussing news events is a great way to stay young and informed.

 

The loving relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren is reflected in three of Star Bright Books titles that are wonderful for sharing and reading together. They can also inspire the kinds of interactions that allow for talking with one another and getting to know each other better.

 

Grandma is a Slowpoke

Written by Janet Halfmann | Illustrated by Michele Coxon

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In Grandma Is a Slowpoke, a little girl is happy to walk through the woods with her grandma. But Grandma stops so often—she’s such a slowpoke! Each time they take a rest, though, they see wondrous wildlife. After watching cardinals, ants, bunnies, squirrels, ducks, geese, and muskrats, the little girl wants to see more. They sit together as the sun sets and the fireflies begin twinkling in the grasses. “‘Time to go, slowpoke,’” Grandma says. At home the little girl tells her family how much fun it was being a slowpoke with Grandma. Beautiful, detailed illustrations take children along on the adventure.

Rosa’s Very Big Job

Written by Ellen Mayer | Illustrated by Sarah Vonthron-Laver

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When Rosa’s Mama goes to the grocery store in Rosa’s Very Big Job, the little girl is proud to help out at home by folding and putting away the laundry. She and her grandpa make it an adventure as they use their imaginations to turn the laundry basket and a sheet into a sailboat. When a storm blows up, Grandpa steers their little craft around rocks and over the wind-whipped waves. As the seas subside, Rosa casts her clothes-hanger fishing pole over the edge of the boat and catches a sockfish for dinner. When Mama gets home, she’s happy to see the neatly stacked laundry and is excited to hear all about Rosa and Grandpa’s escapade. The light, playful, and engaging illustrations will inspire children and grandparents to talk – and play -together.

Cake Day

Written by Ellen Mayer | Illustrated by Estelle Corke

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Cake Day invites little ones into a sunny kitchen to bake a very special treat. As Grandma and her grandchild gather ingredients, measure, pour, and mix it all together, they talk about each step. Once the cake is in the oven, waiting is so hard! Finally, the timer dings, and it’s time to frost the cake and add a shower of rainbow sprinkles to the top! The little one is proud to have helped make a delicious cake for a very exciting day. The sweet relationship between the child and grandma is shown on every page as they have fun working in the kitchen together.

 

Cake Day also models ways that grandparents, parents, and other caregivers can turn everyday activities into joyful teachable moments.

 

You can find Grandma is a Slow Poke here:

Star Bright Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-MillionIndieBound

 

Look for Rosa’s Very Big Job here:

Star Bright Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

 

Cake Day is available here:

Star Bright Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-MillionIndieBound

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.