Shannon: "Wow, Kaleia! Another pancake? How many is that for you?"
Magnolia: "I've had three, too!"
Shannon: "I only had two! There is one left on the plate. I wonder how many I made this morning..."
Kaleia: "One, two..." Magnolia: "Let me figure it out!"
Shannon: "Let's all figure it out in our head and share the number we come up with."
Magnolia: "That's what I got too! I knew my three and Kaleia's three made six, then Mama's two would be eight and one more makes nine!"
Shannon: "Kaleia, what was your strategy?"
Kaleia: "I just counted in my head."
Magnolia (giddy with excitement): "You gave us a story problem!"
Shannon: "Yeah, I guess I did."
Magnolia: "Now I have a pancake story problem for you, but its not addition. It's subtraction!"
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Story problems can be fun!
As a high school math teacher, I was excited to find an ally in my mathematics culture change mission in Maggie's 1st grade teacher. She is supporting Magnolia and her classmates to see the value of both the accuracy of their answers and the ability to communicate their process. At the fall parent information night, her teacher asked parents to think about the ways we approach reading at home; Cozy bedtime stories, cuddled up together, reading both the familiar and the new and exciting. Yet, most of us have less than "cozy" images of mathematics. It is viewed as drudgery or punishment, and only accessible for some people. Let's change that. Kids are natural mathematicians, wondering about patterns, estimating amounts, making comparisons. We only need to wonder with them. The more we do it, the easier it becomes.
If you need some support, there is a cool foundation called Bedtime Math. They have a few books and offer a nightly email to help give parents ideas.