Teaching Math


My daughter struggles with math the same way I did in school. She gets tired and loses patience and makes easy mistakes. Sometimes our weekly Sunday math sessions can become very contentious.

I wanted to go over the commutative, associative and distributive properties with her and was trying to avoid a worksheet straight away and maybe use it later for verification.

I decided to use a jar of paperclips to use to model from now on with math. They are small, colorful, not candy and easy to manipulate.

We started out with something I saw in Twitter last week: model 2×3

I was really surprised and encouraged when she placed the paperclips into two groups of 3 instead of arranging them in a 2×3 pattern as you’d see on a worksheet.


We then moved through equations modeling things like 3x(2+3) and distributing them (3×2)+(3×3); modeling 2+3 = 3+2 and 1x(2×4) = 4x(1×2). The paperclips really helped. When we used the worksheet for verification, she made a couple of mistakes but it was a lot less aggravating. I feel that she understood the properties better than she would have a trick. It took longer to teach and learn, but I’ll see if this technique helps pay dividends in the long run.

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