Q&A #1618

Problems with addition and subtraction

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From: Suzanne A. (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jun 01, 1999 at 22:20:23
Subject: Re: Problems with addition and subtraction

As a middle school teacher it seems amazing that young ones are
tested and are thought to be slow when they are first learning their skills.
I often see middle school students who are still having such trouble.  It is 
not just with addition but with their multiplication tables, fractions, etc.  
I think if they just had had some time, and most importantly some individual 
time with someone who cared, they might not reach middle school with such 
problems. It is important to stay positive with your son!  I think it is 
great that you are taking the time to work with him this summer. I think the 
time that you are able to give to him will be very valuable.

Here are some ideas for you:

I went to the Math Forum's Teacher Place and then went to the Elementary


and one of the links pointed me to Aunty Math, which you can view here:


As I read through her current problem and some of the past problems it seemed
like a great place where you and your son could visit to find stories
involving numbers. This site seems particularly helpful because there is
information for the parents or teachers, as well as problems for the
students. The presentation is colorful and the letters are large. I can see 
this working easily even if the student was not ready yet to read. The parent
could read it like a storybook and then talk about the problem and arrive at
a solution.

If those stories are too involved for your son at this point, you might just
want to make some up yourself using household objects. The idea is to have
your son "see" the concept and not just have to deal with it abstractly as a
numeral. Once the number concept is understood, the numerals will have more

Here are some interactive websites that your son
might enjoy.

Mad Minute

You can set the parameters so that the problems that are generated are
tailored to your son's needs.


This is another java page to practice math online.

Another idea is software that I use with my middle school students. It is
called Math Stars (only available in the Macintosh platform) and it is
shareware. Again you can easily set the parameters to give only addition
problems, or subtraction problems as well.


Another idea, from a suggestion that Claudia, another Teacher2Teacher 
Associate, wrote in another response, is to play card games with your son. 
She described:

(1) Play dice or card games with him. Keep score. Let him decide who is
winning. For example: roll two dice and have him add on.  That means begin
with the number of dots on one die and count on as in 5 + 3 more = 8. Take
turns rolling and giving one point for the person who has the greater number.

(2) Play "Battle" with cards. Use a deck of cards, remove all face cards,
shuffle and cut. Each person has half of the deck. With the cards face down,
each player turns up one card. The person who can call the sum of the two
cards gets to keep both cards. The winner is the person who has most cards at
the end of the game. A variation is to call the difference between the two

I hope some of those ideas are helpful.

 -Suzanne A., for the Teacher2Teacher service

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