Thursday, October 11, 2007

Teaching Time and Money

Two things that are barely touched on in so many curricula are teaching time and money. I found a WONDERFUL book for teaching both. Before I tell you about this book, I will admit I came across it on accident. I don't even remember where I got it. But when I started looking for another book for my daughter to use this year, I realized how lucky I got and how many horrible (and expensive) workbooks there are out there. So I ended up getting her the same book my son had used.

The book that I am using to teach my son and daughter about time and money is The Complete Book of Time & Money. The book is geared for grades K-3, and you can use it to teach the concepts, enrich school learning, improve concepts often misunderstood, and to "catch up" an older student who may have missed it the first time. I began using this book when my son was 5 for Kindergarten. He is still going through it, and my daughter has started her book at age 4 (almost 5). In addition to other math work, I usually give them one page about time and one page about money. The book starts out very basic, and gets harder gradually. My son has been able to grasp the concepts well, but I can tell that if we don't use the books for a few days or a week, he will start to have trouble with some concepts. For that reason, this book is a great book to do over the summer. It amazes me that parents think nothing about children taking off an entire summer. That is why so many math books start out with review for the first 3 chapters or so- because they know that most students have forgotten the concepts. Teaching time and money reinforces other math concepts, such as adding and subtracting, counting by fives, and fractions.

Another tool we use that has tremendous helpful qualities is the Talking Clever Clock by Learning Resources. My mom got this clock when my son was around 3 at a clearance sale. We don't really use all the doo-dads on it for school (though my son likes to fiddle with it after school) but we do use the hands and the digital timer on it. Here is the most helpful aspect of this clock: when the minute hand moves, the hour hand moves at the appropriate intervals. It works just like a clock, except that it can be manipulated by little hands. So when it says "10:45" the student can see that the hour hand is almost on the 11. This helps with the book mentioned above, because many of the activities require the child to draw the correct time on the clock. Most children will be inclined to draw the hour hand directly over the hour, even if it is half-past or even a quarter til the hour. This clock helps reinforce the correct position of the hour hand. It also helps solve problems such as, "Pick a time between a quarter past 3 and 4:30." Like most learning tools, a child can grow dependent on this clock, so it's important to make sure that doesn't happen.

We also love making up problems with money and selling things back and forth. During the summer, we spent a lot of time at the ball park watching baseball tournaments and softball games. Although I usually don't let my kids have much junk food, I did allow them to frequent the concession stand because it reinforced the concept of money. They had to make sure they had enough, they learned how much things cost, and they counted their change. Not bad lessons for 4 and 6 year-olds! They also grew the confidence required to step up and ask for the item they wanted. This is HUGE if you have experienced an older child (like my stepdaughter) who still is not able to do this. She is 15. While we can get her up to the counter, she mumbles and always has to repeat herself.

We do have a little store for our wooden kitchen that I've thought about using as a pretend store with prices and everything. But I never get around to working up the energy. Maybe when they get a little older they will think of this themselves!

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