Merrill Elementary Math Update

September 2019

How can I help my child with MATH?

  • Show your child that math is in our everyday lives.
  • Play card or board games that involve counting or patterns.
  • Count your steps as you take a walk. Count by 1's, 2's, 5's, and 10's.
  • Have your child measure ingredients for a recipe you are making.
  • Help your child learn math vocabulary.
  • Give your child coins to practice counting money.
  • Ask your child to count change at the grocery store, or to estimate the total cost while you are shopping.
  • Give your child a story problem to solve. Have your child explain how to solve the problem.
  • Look for shapes and patterns in real life.
  • Use dice or playing cards to make a game out of practicing math facts.
  • Compare! Which is the tallest? the heaviest? The longest? the smallest? the fastest?
  • Have tools such as a ruler, a scale, a calculator, or a measuring tape available to use in your house.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it a good idea to learn multiple strategies?
As students develop their ability to recall basic facts, it makes good sense to address both mastery of the skill (quick recall of facts) and understanding of the concept (the properties of the operation and the relationships between facts). Bridges teaches basic facts by first having students explore the operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division) in the context of story problems or situations, which ensures students understand what it means to add, subtract, multiply, or divide. Students then learn strategies for solving basic problems; these strategies illustrate properties of the operation and can be used for mental math with larger numbers (as well as to help recall facts when needed). Finally, students practice the facts until they can recall them from memory.

Bridges teaches students to compute with larger numbers by first establishing conceptual understanding of the operation, then using visual models to learn different ways of calculating, and finally helping them become proficient with efficient algorithms. When computing with larger numbers, students are frequently encouraged to make an estimate first. Estimation promotes number sense, helps students evaluate whether their final answers are reasonable, and encourages them to develop mental math skills that are useful in so many real-world situations.

Why is it important for students to show their work and explain their thinking?
Asking students to show their work provides more information for teachers and improves student learning: when students explain how they solved a problem, they come to understand the mathematical concepts more deeply. Showing their work also provides detailed evidence that teachers can use to see what students know and where their misconceptions lie. This evidence is essential: it allows teachers to adjust the way they teach to meet students’ needs, and to document student learning over time, which helps them communicate with families about students’ progress. For similar reasons, state tests often require students to explain how they solved a problem. Students are better prepared for such test items when they explain their solutions on a regular basis. (Taken from the Bridges Parent Support Website)