AIMS – yes, it’s that time of year again. Even though this is the last year that AIMS tests will be given in our schools, students still need to be fully prepared. One of the best things you can do is make sure your student is well-rested and has a good breakfast on testing days.

Here’s another way you can help prepare your child: Making math fun. As parents, most of us likely cringe when our children ask for help with math homework. If we asked our own parents, they’d probably say the same! It turns out that young children actually like math – learning to count and playing simple math games – but many of them become less enthusiastic as the math gets harder.

There are things that we, as parents, can to do help our children learn math. That’s important, because the world – as we all know – is getting more and more technical and the more math and science skills that our children have, the better their lives will be (not to mention career possibilities!).

Here are some tips from the folks at GreatSchools.org for the lower grade levels:

Kindergarten: Munchy manipulatives – Put some small food items such as raisins, beans or grapes out and have your child separate them in small bowls. Then have your child pick three of each item and put them on a plate. Ask how many items are on the plate. Add two more and ask how many. Have your child eat a few and ask how many there are. You can probably think of a lot more variations, too!

First grade: Shape sensations – Make play dough (here’s a recipe). Have your child help measure the ingredients and point out the difference between teaspoon and tablespoon and measuring cups. When you’ve made the dough, help cut it into squares, circles, triangles, etc. and have your child identify the shapes, describing what makes them different.

Second grade: Money madness – Gather a bunch of things you have around the house like canned goods, toys, books, etc. and get some play money to assign prices to them. Then play a smaller version of “The Price Is Right” and ask your child to figure out how much money certain items cost together or how much change your child would get back. You can take turns, even!

Third grade: Math wars – Get a deck of cards for “Multiplication War.” Deal the cards evenly between you and your child. Each player will turn over a card and the one who multiplies the numbers correctly first gets both cards played. Start slowly and the more you play, the quicker your child will come up with the right answers, get the most cards and win!

Fourth grade: Pizza lesson – Make several small pizzas at home, letting your child choose the toppings and measure the ingredients. When the pizzas are cooked, cut them into different sizes (one pizza into eight slices, one into 10, etc.) and ask your child how many slices in the pizzas, how many there would be if one-third of one pizza were eaten, calculate the toppings by counting pepperonis per slice and such. Then, everyone gets to enjoy eating the “math.”

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