To teach kids math, researcher devises 'brain games'

April 13, 2012, University at Buffalo

( -- The world often breaks down into numbers and regular patterns that form predictable cycles. And the sooner children can inherently grasp these patterns, the more confident and comfortable they will be with the world of math.

That's the discerning approach of University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education professor Ming Ming Chiu, and it's based on decades of teaching teachers and watching how students learn. Known for helping parents find teachable math moments, especially at the dinner table and on living room sofa, Ming has devised new ways to make kids comfortable with the ways of math.

Ming demonstrates his easy-to-follow and fun "" for parents and children in this video. His games are designed to help young, pre-kindergarten children understand concepts that give mathematical order to the chaos around them.

"Children with stronger can recognize more patterns in the world's rapid creation of new information, which grew by a factor of nine during 2006-11," explains Ming. "By understanding these patterns, children will not only better compete for the best jobs as adults, but they also will be better equipped to help solve such major problems as global warming and energy crises.

"The U.S. may be the richest country in the world, but the scores of 15-year-olds on international mathematics tests are below average, behind 30 countries," he adds.

Ming's Brain Games are simple but effective educational exercises that parents can do with their children at home. These games, some of which he demonstrates in the video, include:

* More? You Want More? This simple game provides an introduction to numbers, using things kids really like, such as "blueberries. ("Here are two plates of blueberries, which one do you think has more?")

* Be Fair and Share, Part I. This game helps kids learn addition and subtraction. ("We have two plates of blueberries. How do we share them so each person has the same number of blueberries?")

* Be Fair and Share, Part II. This game teaches the basics of multiplication and division. ("Three friends are coming. Let's share the blueberries so each friend has the same number of .")

* Junk Mail Isn't Just Junk. This exercise helps kids understand statistics by measuring (or counting) how much junk mail arrives each day at home, and then using this measurement to predict how much mail will arrive the next day. Children are asked to assess the accuracy of their predictions. ("Was our guess close?" "Why do you think we received less junk mail than yesterday?")

Ming encourages parents, teachers, caretakers, friends -- and anyone else who wants to help young people learn math -- to devise their own fun Brain Games. He has only four simple rules for doing so:

1. Use things around the house that kids like. Berries. Popcorn. Chocolate

2. Start easy

3. Write down every step in the game

4. Keep it light and fun

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not rated yet Apr 13, 2012
The video link doesn't work [invalid video ID]
not rated yet Apr 14, 2012
Typical question in one of these brain games.

"If bobbie has 7 bullets and is hiding behind a steel drum, and you have 9 bullets and a stash of crack in your shoe, should you try and cap bobbie and keep your stash or should you take off your shoe and run for your life?"
not rated yet Apr 16, 2012
I really can't see how the games described are any different to the sorts of things kids have been taught for centuries.
not rated yet May 01, 2012
Teaching kids with fun is a good idea.I adopt all interesting ways to teach kids. Generally the new generation kids are different.They get bore with normal way of teaching.They get bore with paper work.So i teach them online lessons I teach them in the way they like.If sometimes they like normal way of teaching i teach them like that.I teach them online lessons when they get bore with paper work.

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