How do you keep the ‘fun’ in learning those fundamental skills?

Just before Christmas, my son-in-law told me that my 5-year old granddaughter need to work on counting to 100 and number formations. My job – practice those skills while keeping our time together enjoyable!!

In previous posts (see links below), I emphasized the importance of drill and practice – it is an integral part of learning for mastery. In sports and music, it is embraced as the only way to success. Unfortunately, in education, it is often viewed as ‘boring’ rather than a valuable learning tool. With children, I always recommend trying to make it fun through games or interactions. Let’s look at how we can do that to help Blair with her numbers and counting.
Often on the drive to or from school, I will have Blair count to 100 for me. That can become tedious for all of us, so here are some things we do to keep it fun:

  •  take turns counting each number – her older sister is usually there so we involve her too
  •  since she has most difficulty with bridging from one decade to the next, I will count up to the ‘8-number’ (eg 28) and she will do the next two (29 – 30), then I will take over again
  •  I will say 1, 2 or 3 numbers (eg. 78, 79) and she will tell me the next one (80) (for older children, you can do this in reverse)
  • count by 10’s, starting from different numbers (eg. 3, 13, 23, 33, . . . )

To work on number formations, I group the numbers into: the down numbers ( 4, 5, 6), the forward numbers (2, 3, 7) and ‘naughty 9’ who goes backwards. (I don’t worry too much about 0, 1 and 8 as they can’t be reversed) We practice these by groups, starting with the down numbers. These activities make it fun! (Letter formations can be practiced in much the same way)

  • use your finger to form the number in jello or whipping cream and then eat the number
  • form the numbers with Wiki Stiks
  • using Word Art, make outline numbers to trace with crayons
    outline 2_Page1
  • using Fonts for Teachers, make dotted numbers to trace with crayons
  • make a 7 x 7 large-square grid and make the numbers in the squares. You can make it interactive by taking turns, modeling the proper formation (eg.” forward and down” for 2, 3, 7) as you form your number.

Have fun practicing these basic skills and please share the fun things you do to support student learning through drill and practice!

Links to Drill and Practice posts: