They need to use manipulatives as they learn to count, add, and subtract. Even older children may need to use manipulatives when learning new concepts such as multiplication, division, and fractions.
Snack time math is also a great way to introduce spatial skills words, estimation practice, and story problems.
The process is simple. The next time you have a finger food snack, add in some math problems.
For example, if you have a younger child who is learning to count, place a few pieces of food on his plate and ask him to count how many he has. You could then instruct him to add one more piece of food to his plate and ask how many he has now.
Or, if you have an older child, instruct him to make three groups of four raisins and ask how many he has on his plate. Next, ask him how many groups of two raisins he has. The number of raisins does not change, but the number in each group does.
One of our favorite activities at snack time math is to practice through a story. I begin by telling my child that we will pretend she is a whale and her raisins are fish. (Or substitute whatever animal or superhero will interest your child.) Our story might go something like this:
Mom: “A school of three fish was swimming along the ocean one day.”
Suzy places three fish on her plate.
Mom: “They were joined by another school of four fish. How many fish are there now?”
Suzy: “There are now seven fish.”
Mom: “Along came a Suzy whale and ate five of the fish because she was really hungry. How many fish are remaining?”
Suzy: “Mmm. Those five fish were really good. There are two fish now.”
The story continues with me adding and subtracting fish. When I add fish to the story, Suzy places raisins on her plate. When I subtract fish from the story, she can eat the raisins. You can also practice other math skills such as spatial skills, multiplication, division, fractions, and estimation with story problems.
Would you like to learn more about incorporating snack time math into your math lessons through video demonstrations of a real snack time math lesson? The Snack Time Math course includes video demonstrations of all the concepts discussed above.