Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How Kids Toys Help Students Learn Math

When I was a child, I was taught my ABCs through a system of puppets designed as the letters. For example, Mr. H was very hairy, so I associated the "h" sound with hair. After we practiced pronouncing that sound, we got our reward: the chance to play with Mr. H, the puppet. Learning through traditional teaching methods followed by interacting with a toy that resembled what we learned was an excellent way for me to learn because I got bored easily just listening to my 83 year old kindergarten teacher speak for more than a few minutes. I was young and eager and could not sit still for a moment. Interactive learning helped bridge this gap and made it possible for me to learn easier.

More and more classrooms are utilizing interactive learning because it gives younger students the chance to play around with the kids toys, objects, or software so that they make some sort of connection. For example, 1+1=2 may not make any sense to a child, if he doesn't have any contextual understanding of what these numbers stand for.

However, if you put one bead and add another bead, the child can see that there are now two beads on the table. No two children learn the same, so having more than one style of teaching offers the greatest opportunity to help children learn the basics. We are increasingly becoming a visual and interactive society. We read through a combination of image and text and see more movies than read books. Our teaching pedagogies must coincide with this shift. For some students, they can learn by just listening to the teacher. For others like me, it's easier to learn through playing with software or toys. Whatever the case, passive and interactive learning are both necessary methods to help children learn the basics.

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