Use everyday events to make up a problem for children to solve. Provide paper and pencil so children can draw pictures or symbols to represent the people or items in the problem.
Present a situation. For example, hold up a container for all the kids to see, but don’t let them see what is inside. “This is the ball container. Draw a picture of it on your paper.” After the children draw the container say, “I saw Taylor put one ball in the container at cleanup time. Draw that ball in your container. Then I saw Kanye put two balls in the basket. Draw the balls he put in. Now see if you can figure out the magic number. How many balls are in this container now? Use your picture to help you find the magic number.” After all shout out the answer, then dramatically pull the balls out one-by-one while the children count them.
Children use the graphics to help them solve problems with real items. They will count the balls as they draw them, then count the total. You may need to remind them that the last number they say is the total.
Parents can benefit from knowing that young children can solve simple concrete math problems in their daily life. Use situations that the children have experienced or seen along with real objects to enable them to visualize and draw the items. The drawings don’t have to look like the items at all. The just need to represent the items in the problem.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015
©2015 by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.