I love family. I love learning. I love food. This is simply a collection of thoughts, memories, and recipes that are a piece of me!

Monday, August 3, 2015

M&M Math.

In honor of school starting in a few weeks, I wanted to share this.  It's a great way to teach kids new concepts, but it also is an amazing way to get kids back into school mode if you want to give your kids a refresher course in math without them having to even pick up a pencil!

Long before I had three kids, and long before I ever started homeschooling, I had the amazing opportunity to work in the classroom of the best first grade teacher ever in the world.  Okay, so she is also my mom...and I'm not going to even pretend to not be bias....

But one thing I learned from her that I've carried with me since then is that learning is best done when it's fun- that kids will always learn best when they're enjoying it.

One of the things she did every year with her class was M&M Math.  (She actually had a book that she used, but I couldn't find it for this...)

I have used this with Isaiah, and I'm so excited to get to introduce this to my sweet-toothed little ladies now.

If you're anything like I was, you're probably thinking, "What in the world does candy have to do with math??"  Well, let me let you in on a little secret.  You can pretty much use anything to learn or teach.  Here are a few ways we are using M&Ms...

(Skittles are fun, too...or Fruit Loops!)

1. Sorting.  One of the reasons I love this is because it's really easy to cater to different grade levels.  With Eva, who is 2, I split a paper plate into 6 sections, wrote a color word in each section, and then colored the section that color.  She can match the M&M color to the color on the plate.  But with Izzy, who is 5 and knows her colors well and is now working on reading, I didn't color the section so she could match the candy color to the color word.

2. Graphing.  For this one, I did print some graphing pages off the internets, but they would be pretty simple to make, too.  This one is great for Izzy and Isaiah, who is in third grade.  Both kids get a small cup of candies.  Izzy put the candies directly on the page in the designated color spaces, but Isaiah counts the colors and draws on the page.  Both ways create a bar graph for the kids to see which color they have the most of.

3. Measuring and Estimation. To teach measuring, we simply put the candies in a line and use a ruler to see how long it is.  For youngr kids, you can "measure" by seeing how many M&Ms long, wide, or big something is.  We can include estimation by adding or taking candies from the line and estimating how long we think the line is now.  We also used the different kinds of M&Ms to see how that changed things.  It took less peanut butter candies to get from one side of the paper than it took of the mini candies.  This led us into...

4. Greater than, less than. For this one, I simply use an index card with a greater than/less than symbol on it.  I let the kids get a handful of candies and place some in two piles next to each other.  They then count the candies and then place the card correctly between the two piles to show which side has more and which has less.  This one is fun because I let them eat some from the greater than side to make the statement not true anymore.  That's always a crowd pleaser!

5. Counting.  This one is pretty obvious, but it's way more fun than using counters or non-edible manipulatives!

6. Alike and Different.  For this one, I used regular M&Ms, but I also used the peanut butter and mini ones as well.  The way we did it, each kid got a blue mini, regular, and peanut butter candy.  They then figured out how they were all alike and how they were all different.  They came up with similarities like them all being the same color, them all having chocolate inside, and them all having an M on them.  The differences were size, shape, and taste.  The younger kids can just tell you what is alike and what is different, but the older ones can write it all down.

7. Addition and Subtraction.  My mom uses flash cards which makes it really easy.  Each kid gets a flash card, then they use the M&Ms as counters next to each number.

8. Shapes and Pictures.  The kids are always a big fan of making pictures out of everything, and candy is no exception.  They used them to make very 8-bit type of pictures.  (I actually used this once for a Mario party we had for Isaiah.  The kids got a sort of "color by number" type of paper, but they used M&Ms to fill in the spaces instead of coloring them.  The result was either a Mario or a Luigi.  It was so fun for them, and you can check that out right here! (Mario Party)

The truth is, any time we mix up our school work and do something out of the ordinary, my kids always walk away understanding the concepts much better, and they never seem to forget that lesson.

I'm sure there are tons of other ways you can use M&Ms in math lessons.  Get creative (and share those ideas with me!)

I just suggest doing those lessons right before recess...because the kids can get a little crazy!