For young children, simply reading books with math embedded gets them excited about math.
One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J. Pinczes is about 100 hungry ants who march off to a picnic, in one long line. Then they think they might get there faster if they lined up by 2'1 or 4's or 5's or 10's. They spend so much time lining up that htey get to the picnic too late to eat!
Does your child enjoy a favorite book that has math in it?
Are there some other strategies to use in helping children with math problems?
We started a similar discussion in our Reading & Language Arts group about children's books that relate to math. Check it out at http://community.thinkfinity.org/message/16332#16332.
Interestingly enough, Emily Manning host of our Chatting About Books podcast series just interviewed Taryn Souders, author of Whole-y Cow: Fractions are Fun! I'll have to remember to post here when her episode comes out.
And by the way, I'm also interested in your original question about how children learn to read math problems. I'm thinking of those dreaded word problems that I was always so terrible at. While reading math-related books may help, I have to believe there is some strategy involved in figuring those out.
Hey Bridget! There definitely IS a strategy to solving those pesky word problems.
I wrote a workbook/answer key/video script called MathTacular! 4: Word Problems that helps children develop strategies for how to understand and solve a wide variety of mathematical word problems. Check out the link for some video snippets.
Excellent point, how do teachers advance a child's ability to read math problems? And how can parents help their children with this very difficult homework issue.
For some, it may be creating a list of phrases in word problems and how they translate into mathematical operations.
Here is a page from Purplemath that elaborates on this idea. It's a handy little guide for parents too.
Translating Word Problems: Keywords - http://www.purplemath.com/modules/translat.htm
A child could keep his/her own list of mathematical phrases grouped by mathematical operation. That could really make them better problem solvers.
Have you seen the website Figure This! Math Challenges for Families produced by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics?
The site presents a series of math problems designed to create discussion and collaboration between parents and their children. The problems are based around objects and situations with which most students will be familiar. For example, there are questions about how movies make money, how far a paper airplane can fly, and when to buy block ice instead of crushed ice.
Please share your experiences using these challenges with your children.