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Introduction to Odd and Even Numbers
by Gail Englert

A response to the question:

I would like any suggestions about introducing the concept of odd and even numbers.

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I would like any suggestions about introducing the concept of odd and even numbers to six year olds, particularly mental maths exercises that could be done prior to written activities.

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I am a fifth grade teacher, but I have a friend who teaches younger students, who introduces the concept this way.

She uses an overhead projector, and makes models of the numbers from 1 - 10. Each model is a set of squares arranged in two columns (or rows, depending on how you hold them). (She makes these models from the plastic counted cross-stitch templates, cutting them up into the models she needs. Placed on an overhead they are small enough for many models to fit at one time, but large enough to move around easily.) So a 2 would just be two squares side-by-side. A 5 would be a row of 2 and a row of 3 side-by-side, and so on. She displays these models, and asks her students what they notice about the models.

Students soon see that there are two groups of numbers, the ones with evenly matched up rows (the even ones) and some that have an "odd" square and do not have a partner.

To drive this home, she tells her students that the numbers are going to have parties, but only certain numbers are invited to each party. The students have to decide which numbers will go to the "odd" party, and which will go to the "even" party.

Then students make some models of their own, drawing squares, or coloring in squares on graph paper, using the numbers 11 - 20, determining which are even and which are odd.

-Gail, for the T2T service

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