Here you will see students as young as 4 and 5 years old doing algebra and "advanced" math, without ever knowing it's supposed to be hard.
You are invited to learn how to use this method...

Monday, December 6, 2010

4 Year Old Math Enrichment

A bright 4 year old has a fun time playing math. Before we knew it an hour had gone by. I remembered to take the camera out after about 20 minutes...we had already done some counting, added random numbers together and then started adding pairs, starting easy 1+1 and working our way up to 9+9. All 45 addends will be mastered using base ten blocks. I enlarged the photos in this post a little for those who use Pinterest.

Then we did some multiplication and division.  He likes division because he only has to count one side. We count by eights, then we count the sides, then we count the rectangle and each side. He can see 24 ÷  8 =  3. The three eights are visually obvious too.
Then we have fun counting and building 20 sixes.
And even more fun knocking them down.
A free time wall. He had no rules to follow when he built this wall he just built it. The addends for 10 and some smaller numbers are being learned here people think this is all that base ten blocks are good for, making tens and some place value but you can do so much more.  Again knocking the thing over is the most fun...
On to some algebra puzzles.  I tell him the pieces and he has to turn them into a rectangle. Base ten blocks are great for teaching algebra and addends and a whole lot more.
The men help him count the sides.
This one problem teaches him about counting, addends, factoring, multiplication and algebra all in one lesson. This took about 15 minutes from start to finish...15 is a lot to handle when you are four.  Note if he had to get out 15 individual units this problem would be nearly impossible and would take a lot longer.
He took a while figuring out which blocks to make his 15 with, he has some experience factoring so he knows a 10 and a 5 aren't going to cut it.
At last he has decided on 5's.  He uses them to shape the rest of his rectangle. I tell my high school students what this child already knows: the way to factor it lies in the factors of the constant.
Now that he has three fives all he has to do is make those pesky x's form a rectangle.
A little more work and he has it.
Now his pals can help him  count the sides.
Just for the fun of it he wrote the factors himself to the best of his ability.
"It almost looks like a 5"
He was quite proud of his 3. Using base ten blocks to teach concepts and understanding of math is a very powerful thing. Just because they can't write doesn't mean they can't learn math; writing isn't a perquisite for math  anymore than writing is a prerequisite for learning English. You will find that students who learn math this way will be able to do a lot more math in their heads than students taught using the current completely ineffectual way we use now.
x2 + 8x + 15 = (x + 5)(x + 3) is easy and fun to do and completely understood. One means the rectangle the other means the sides. Later we will deepen understanding and add more concepts on top of these basics. Can you see math will always be easy for this child? No fear of new stuff in the future because he has math experience now. Using base ten blocks makes understanding math easy and fun...child's play.

He helps me do the same screen cast:

If you enjoyed this post you will also enjoy this popular post and screencast showing much less structured play with clay for learning math concepts. Math enrichment and a math rich environment go hand in hand.

Go to the House of Math.

Trig for 8 year olds. Just what it says, click the link and find out more.

This post remains popular going on two years later...he was just 4 and 1/4 when we made this...now algebra is no big deal and fractions and multiplication are fun...he is the go to guy in his kindergarten class when kids want to know what to do when they have math.

And now he is the go to guy in 1st grade. Please take a moment and watch the vid on the concepts page under the heading "Early Exposure to Math Concepts Helps Ensure Success." It's only 3 and a half minutes long and should help dispel the myth that you don't want to start math too early. There is no "too early."

Give your young child the advantage in math with my cool counters compendium.

“I care not what subject is taught if only it be taught well.” ~Thomas Henry Huxley

Get this book if you have children 7 and under...find out more about it, and a look inside here.  You can get it without a password for just \$4.99 People's comments about the base ten block book here.

"Great book for teaching how to use the blocks! Colorful, clear pictures and cute rhymes make the book fun to read and play around with. We printed the book out, and my 5yo loves how many of the block pictures are big enough to put his blocks directly on top of the pictures. The text plays fast and loose with niceties like punctuation, but is engaging when read aloud.

Most of the book focuses on playing with addition facts up to 10, which gives a solid foundation. But it also delves briefly into such topics as square roots, place value, addition of multi-digit numbers, and a glimpse at multiplication. And in true Crewton Ramone fashion, problem solving with 'x' (basic algebra) is sprinkled throughout. A great intro to playing with math." ~CS, GA.