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Math Before Bed

Transforming your daytime and nighttime numeracy discussions!

The benefits of reading stories to our children at nighttime have been shared countless times over, and for good reason. Reading improves literacy skills. Why is it that we don’t do math with our children before bed?

Math Before Bed is a collection of prompts that can inspire mathematical discussions that you and your children can have before bed, at dinner, or anytime.

Each prompt on this site shows you and your child a perplexing problem. Sometimes there is one right answer and sometimes there are many right answers. The purpose of each question is to generate a discussion about HOW you determined an answer. If you find one answer, try to find another. You could complete one prompt a night, or many prompt.

For example, you show this prompt:

Read the prompt out loud and let your child think. He/she may say 20. Ask them to describe how she/he counted them. Your child may say:

  •   “I counted each star up starting at 1, 2,3,….up to 20.”  OR they may say, 
  •   “I saw that two stars were in each circle, so I counted by 2s (or I skip counted) 2,4,6, up to 20″. Or they may say,
  •   “I saw each column is 4 stars so counted up by 4s”. OR they may say,
  •   “I saw two rows of 10 in each row. 10 + 10 is 20”. OR they may say
  •   “There are 5 columns of 4 so 5 times 4 is 20.”


When your child tells you how they counted ask her: “Another child counted them a different way. Can you see which way they counted?” This will prompt your child to see those other groupings. They will start to make connections between adding, and multiplying. Did he/she count they same way you did? Share YOUR strategy with your child. You can extend the problem after too. Ask them “If we added two more circles, how many stars would be there now?”

As an example, watch/listen here while two seven year-olds talk their way through this patterning problem.

The pictures will prompt you to count, predict, follow a pattern, reason, and order. Get ready, snuggle up, and transform your nightly discussions!

Jon Orr is also a regular contributor on these websites:

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