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Do I Add or Subtract?

Brain research suggests adding movement with words in order to help the memory.


Do I Add or Subtract? This post includes some brain based ideas for adding movement and gestures to help children figure out whether to add and subtract when solving math story problems.

Many children struggle to remember when to add or subtract when they read math story problems. I decided to add some movement to help the kids remember when to add or subtract.

When we talk about an addition story, I have the children gesture one arm out and reference the first set. Then they gesture the second arm out and reference the second set. Then while we ask the question, we swoop our arms together into a plus sign, and say "How many all together?" or "How many in all?" The motion of bringing both arms together into a plus sign while saying the words really helps!

Do I Add or Subtract? This post includes some brain based ideas for adding movement and gestures to help children figure out whether to add and subtract when solving math story problems.
  For subtraction, we start by gesturing a set in one arm. Then the second arm swoops away part of that set, making a minus sign with the arms.

Do I Add or Subtract? This post includes some brain based ideas for adding movement and gestures to help children figure out whether to add and subtract when solving math story problems.

Finally, for a subtraction comparison story, we gesture being a scale, balancing a set on each hand while saying, "How many more?" or "How many less?"

Do I Add or Subtract? This post includes some brain based ideas for adding movement and gestures to help children figure out whether to add and subtract when solving math story problems.


These gestures seem rather simple, yet with a few repetitions, the children remember them when they are doing word problems. In fact, I've had children come back to me long after they left my class and tell me how glad they are I taught them these gestures!

 It helps if you have fun math stories for the children to practice with. Here are a few themed math story problems to make the practice a little more fun!

Do I Add or Subtract? This post includes some brain based ideas for adding movement and gestures to help children figure out whether to add and subtract when solving math story problems.




7 comments:

  1. I love this idea! Anytime you get those kids moving, it seems to make a difference. Thanks for sharing!
    Sarah
    Sarah's First Grade Snippets

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  2. Sally, who runs the bright idea linky?! It seems like a terrific idea- I tend to need motivation from blog hops, linkies etc to get posts done, even though I have tons of ideas.

    Also, I went to a Greg Tang workshop, and he pointed out some interesting things about math vocab, such as: kids get confused with the word "more". It is used in both addition (ie 5 more birds flew by) but also subtraction/comparing (ie How many more birds were there?). I am so glad you posted this bright ideas to help with solving word problems. It's not so simple, so the more ideas we have to help our students, the better!

    Bex
    Reading and Writing Redhead

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  3. Great ways to use movement to help with math! I think movement definitely helps kids remember. Plus, it makes it more fun too!
    Lori
    Conversations in Literacy

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  4. I LOVE to add movement to all of my teaching. It really helps all children understand when they can move while learning. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing them.

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  5. I love adding gestures to my lessons....but often can't think of good ones. Thanks for sharing!

    Terri Izatt
    KinderKapers

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  6. Super, super idea! Can't wait to try this with my students next school year!

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    Replies
    1. I have kids come back to me years later and thank me for sharing this tip!

      Sally

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