Teacher Toolbox
Learning Strategies - Mathematics

Exploring Concepts

Children benefit from using a variety of objects and materials to explore mathematic ideas independently.  For example, have small blocks or other objects accessible in the classroom for children to explore during activity or free time.

  • Have children complete puzzles and build using a variety of materials such as wooden blocks and empty household cartons, or make inventions.  Young children can incorporate their inventions into imaginary play.
  • Provide students with a problem to solve and use open-ended questions to guide their exploration of the targeted concept. 
    For example, "How many different patterns can you locate on the number chart?"; "How can you use the number chart to solve …" ; "Do you find patterns helpful to solve problems, why or why not?"; asking questions stimulates thinking
  • Give children opportunities to explain their thoughts.  If they are unable to link the language to the concept, provide students with the label. For example, if a child is trying to explain the concept of addition but cannot verbalize the word higher or more, use a vertical number line and specifically point to the numbers as they increase and state that the numbers are getting more/higher. This reinforces the concept visually and links it to the language.
  • Reinforce the necessity of mathematics.  For example, explain that students need to learn to estimate in order to support how to judge time and how to estimate space when they are learning to maintain personal boundaries during social exchanges
  • Incorporate math into other academic domains.  For example, if studying cities in social studies, have a visual that demonstrates the different measurement units and link the concept of measurement to the different types of building and structures found in cities.
  • Provide frequent review and explicitly connect new concepts to prior knowledge. Use verbal cues such as, "Last week we studied..., this week we will expand on the idea…" to help children link to prior knowledge.
  • Incorporate books during read out loud or during language arts that target math concepts or ideas.  This will encourage children to think about math across academic domains and provide opportunities for discussion.