Skip To Main Content

Header Utility Navigation

Logo Header

King School

An independent day school educating students PreK-Grade 12

Menu Trigger Container

Top Container


Landing-nav, don't delete

Teaching Mathematics in Lower School
Math card game

“Struggling doesn’t mean you’re bad; it’s an opportunity to learn,” said Grade 2 teacher Aman Samra as she presented alongside colleague Jenny Bruno to lower school colleagues the key takeaways from a professional development workshop she attended during the summer. “We have to counter these stereotypes in our classrooms.”

Samra and Bruno’s presentation took place during a faculty meeting on Wednesday, October 12, and referred to the workshop titled "How to Learn Math for Teachers," offered through the Stanford Graduate School of Education.

Using slides in her presentation, Samra highlighted the barriers students face in math education, including the misconception that “math is boring; it does not relate to students” and “perfection means success, no room for error.” Teachers in the room nodded in agreement.

Samra noted that math education should go beyond memorizing facts and equations and instead create a growth mindset in students. “The more mistakes a student makes, the more they can grow into flexible problem solvers.”

Referencing “The Power of Yet” bulletin board in the Lower School, she asked teachers to remind students that “mistakes give us clues for what we don’t know yet, for what we need to know.”

Following Samara’s presentation, the faculty shared some of the games and activities they incorporate in their classroom to help students understand mathematical concepts and engage with those concepts in meaningful, age-appropriate ways. Many of the activities featured objects and items familiar to the students. 

PreKindergarten Math

PreKindergarten teacher Jessica Vigliotti illustrated ways students in her class might count and sort colored cotton balls while building fine motor skills using a pair of tweezers. In another example, she held up three plastic bears, two red and one blue. 

“If a student is playing with something like this, we might ask them which bear is different,” she said. “Some students say the one that’s a different color, while others say the one that’s smaller. When we talk about it with the kids, it's an opportunity to reinforce that both answers can be correct.”

Kindergarten teacher Bettina Greenberg demonstrated how she uses cards with students to help them read numbers by matching them with cards featuring dot patterns, hands, tally marks, and other ways of illustrating numerals. She then discussed other games that could be played with the cards once students have mastered matching them.

Grade 5 Math

Older grades incorporated playing cards, language, and programming into their lessons. Jenny Bruno, Grade 5 mathematics teacher, showed cards that she would give to her students with math equations. She explained that when a student solved an equation, they were then asked to program a robot to drive to the answer on a large mat. With their naturally competitive nature, Bruno noted that some students figured out ways for their robots to move outside of the given parameters to reach the destination faster.

Parents will have the opportunity to try out some of the activities at the upcoming Lower School Math Morning on November 18.