Monday, April 6, 2009

Names for 10: the Mathematical Boost

Most of us have lots of names: our formal name, full name, possibly a title at work, a nickname our friends call us, "Babe" or however our partner refers to us, Mom or Dad ...
If you stop and think about it, most of us answer to all kinds of names; why should it be different for the number 10?

Since life tends to be expressed mathematically in base 10, kids who know the Names for 10 become math whizzes on paper and in their heads.

Knowing the Names for 10 (10 and 0, 9 and 1, 8 and 2, 7 and 3, 6 and 4, 5 and 5, 4 and 6, and so on) helps kids solidify number relationships. You'd be shocked to know how many kids, even sixth graders, don't have a solid understanding of these partner relationships.

All kinds of number functions become clear and easy once the Names for 10 become second nature.

Since games and food make learning more fun, try this (and don't be surprised if your own mental math gets faster too):

Use Skittles, M&Ms, Fruitloops, Goldfish, or (for the more healthy minded) almonds or dried soy beans - anything that allows your child to count out 10 pieces to put on a plate, napkin or table. To cover a portion of the food items, use a cup or the child can use a (washed) hand.

  • Have your child count out 10 items.
  • Tell your child that you are going to figure out what number partners go together to make 10.
  • Model for your child by saying that 10 and 0 are partners. Then cover 1 item, and have your child tell you how many are left. Tell your child that 1 and9 are partners. Then cover 2 items (8 are left, so 2 and 8 are partners), and so on.
  • Then have your child cover 1 item and tell you 1s partner (9), and continue the process consecutively until all 10 items are covered (0 and 10 are partners).
  • Don't spoil the discovery. Let your child tell you about the commutative property of equality (4+5=5+4) when it becomes apparent.
  • If your child is tired at this point, stop here.
  • If you're still having fun, model by asking your child to cover a number of morsels with a cup or hand. Count the leftovers, and "guess" how many your child has covered, based on the number partner to make 10.
  • Switch roles. This time, you cover a number of items, and let your child "guess" how many are covered using its partner number to make 10
After you've played the game a few times, you can skip the consecutive drill and go right into the partner guessing game.

At the end of a game, let your child eat each item, one by one, tell you how many pieces have been eaten, and what partner number of morsels to make 10 must be left.

The above activity helps with reasoning skills, addition, subtraction, and number relationships.
After the first time, most kids can set up the game and do most of the steps themselves while you're making dinner or doing another activity if you have a time crunch.

Car or doctor's office variation: Take turns "guessing" the partner when one of you says a number aloud. (What is the partner for 6? Answer: 4) When you get good at it, make partners or "Names" for 100. (What's the partner for 43? Answer 57) As the games get harder, they're more fun, and the kids get more into it.

If you have other ideas for variations, other math games to share that work for your family, or a question to ask, leave a comment. :-)


Stacy S. Jensen said...

I like this method of discovery for the number partners. Many of us (adult and children) learn by touching and feeling instead of writing out those equations over and over. This is a great addition to teach the Names for 10.

Trish Wilkinson said...

If you ever get kids to tutor for math, you won't believe how many dominoes this one skill knocks over, how many concepts this clarifies and sharpens for kids of all ages!