Friday, January 15, 2010

Teaching Odd and Even Numbers

I recently discovered an amazing series of books , Math Start, by Stuart J. Murphy. Having been a math teacher before having my kids,  I am always looking for good stories to introduce math concepts. I'm so excited that this collection of 63 books will keep us busy for quite a while!

Missing Mittens is an adorable story about Farmer Bill trying to solve the mystery of the odd number of mittens. Great prose,
Bill went to see the horses.
Both were shaking in their stall.
Each needed four warm mittens-
that's eight mittens in all.
and beautifully illustrated pictures make the concept of odd and even numbers easily grasped by children as young as three!

After reading the book several times over the course of a couple days, Ryan and I made our own mittens to play with. Using the mittens and the idea of pairs was a simple way for Ryan to grasp the concept of odd and even. I would tell him a number and he would use the mittens to lay out pairs and decide if it was odd or even.

On another day I briefly set a foundation for repeated addition (i.e. multiplication) by asking questions like, how many mittens would you need for four dogs? How about for three chickens. Ryan really likes these questions and enjoyed drawing pictures to solve them. This is just one of several great activities that are included in the back of every Math Start Book.

Later in the week we practiced our odd and even skills using a different manipulative, unifix cubes. Ryan and I sat down with a 1-20 chart. Ryan picked a color for the odd numbers, and a different color for the even numbers. Then we started laying different values out in rows to determine if the numbers were even or odd. We had only gotten to five when Ryan said, hey- it's a pattern. Developing a strong number sense through activities such as this is priceless!

This was as far as I went with the concept of odd and even numbers since Ryan is only 3. But, there were many great activities for older kids in Don Balka's accompanying resource: Hands-On Math and Literature with Mathstart.

The best news is that I contacted Stuart Murphy  last week to request some samples to review for our blog and he so generously obliged!!! So, look for more great Math Start activities to be posted soon! 

All of the materials that I receive to review, will be donated to our local elementary school, Garden Valley Elementary.

1 comment:

  1. Ooo I hope you share before you donate. Lol I would love to take a look at those books! They sound amazing!