ways to help a 3rd grade stop counting on fingers

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by yarnwoman, Oct 3, 2011.

  1. yarnwoman

    yarnwoman Cohort

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    Oct 3, 2011

    ways to help a 3rd grader stop counting on fingers

    Hello everyone,

    I have a 3rd grade student who is having trouble with addition/subtraction facts especially above 10. Mom has tried flashcards to help him memorize these facts but he still needs to count on his fingers or in his head to get the answer. Any suggestions on what I can use to help this student?
     
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  3. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    Maybe some addition songs? That with the flash cards might help with memorization. But, I think some kids will always have to think it out.
     
  4. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    He will not graduate HS counting on his fingers! Teach him some other strategies - cubes, using a number line, drawing a picture! This student needs to use the concrete. Don't take it away. He can memorize facts, but he will only transfer from concrete to abstract when he is ready and understands making and breaking apart numbers.
     
  5. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Buy lots of board games that require 2 dice. Even better if they have to count money as well.
     
  6. bros

    bros Phenom

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    I am horrible at math. I did not master some of the simpler math facts until around third or fourth grade.

    What helped was the use of manipulatives and Touch Math.
     
  7. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    I agree! When I worked as a math resource teacher, I found using different types of manips and the program Touch Math really helped my lower math kids to catch up. I'm ready to start implementing touch math to my second grader asap.
     
  8. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    TouchMath is wonderful! Yes, please let this kiddo use lots of different manips, TouchMath, draw a picture (something nobody taught me! I had to learn it as a teacher!), math games. Practice making 10 on a ten frame. Take numbers apart visually and put them back together.

    This student needs lots of practice - fingers are ok for now. :) Fingers will put themselves away when the time is right.
    Don't worry about fingers - they are just a handy manipulative.
     
  9. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I can do quite a bit with math, but as an adult I DO still often either use touch points on numbers or my fingers. I'm quite fast at it too. Yes, you can graduate high school still using your fingers to count. It doesn't impede me from understanding higher math concepts. Of course my finger counting is much more discreet these days. If I stop and think, I can do most math facts but in general it is just much quicker for me to count on or use my fingers or other strategies because they aren't as automatic to me as they should be. Does that mean panic now? No.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I learn best by writing, not reciting. Could your math homework include writing out math facts, a few at a time, each night? I'm guessing he won't be the only one in the room who benefits.
     
  11. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    For those that have it as habit more than a strategy, try timed tests. Although I am not for timed tests for many reasons, it does help those who use fingers as a crutch.
     
  12. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    But for those that do it out of necessity, not habit, it is an anxiety ridden situation full of failure and just makes things worse.
     
  13. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    I don't view fingers as a crutch, but as God-given manipulatives that go everywhere we go! I have a second grader who uses her fingers like a calculator. I can't figure out what she is doing, but she understands and has developed her own way. I'm trying to teach her some of the other strategies, but she is pretty much entrenched with her own little abacus at the end of her arms. Ok.

    Please, we need to accept our little people as they are. If someone is a whopping 8 or 9 years old and using their fingers to count, this just says the child needs more time to transfer from manipulatives to the abstract of paper/pencil! Please give the child that time. Manipulatives usually fade on their own as the brain and knowledge develops.

    I am a bit bothered that using fingers to count is looked down on. Teaching young children takes patience, and you have to learn to trust them to a point. They will move on when they are ready! You can't force them. Why all the shame for using fingers as a young child??
     
  14. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Getting accurate answers every time speeds up the process of making the automatic recall of the facts instead of requiring the child to guess every time.

    However, my one suggestion would be that while writing the problem or after the answer is written down, the child should use a whisper voice to recite the fact to his or her self.
     
  15. SuperFudge

    SuperFudge Rookie

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    Give addition timed tests. 100 problems in 5 minutes. Give them once per week. They will have to practice in order to take these tests. My students are excellent at addition because of timed tests.
     
  16. Joxepa

    Joxepa Rookie

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    To add my own anecdotal evidence, I've taken a lot of math, and I still count on my fingers - usually only smaller numbers. Probably because (1) I genuinely believe the easier the higher level math becomes, the harder the lower level stuff is for me to do (ha ha) and (2) I learned to count from 1-9 using one hand (1-4 on the fingers, flip to thumb for 5, then count to 9 on the fingers again) so it's pretty fast, compact, and I can keep writing. It helps me a lot in keeping my numbers straight, and I don't think that it's actually negatively affected me. I've always had to count things like 5+8, 4+7, and so on because I never just "knew" them.
     
  17. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Well, except for the ones that aren't and I'm sure it is because they didn't practice.:whistle:

    But it isn't always about lack of practice. It is always about practicing in a way that will bring about mastery. Different kids need this done differently. If you require timed test for kids that really don't have the basics secured you increase anxiety for math which can snowball out of control.

    Flash cards used incorrectly forces a habit of guessing incorrectly and slows down the process, but this is often the method of "practice" given to the parents to use with the children. When this fails it ends up being the parent's fault of the child's fault for not practicing enough.
     
  18. stampin'teacher

    stampin'teacher Cohort

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    pun intended! :p
     
  19. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    It was innocent!
     
  20. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I actually do wish I had a better recall but I dont stress much about it. By the way, in sign language I can count up to 999 before I need a second hand. I do a lot of other strategies too, especially for higher numbers. Im just sayin'...
     
  21. Mrs.DLC

    Mrs.DLC Comrade

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    Chisenbop is a method that works for some students. I used it several years ago.(I still use my fingers at times!)
     
  22. teacherheath

    teacherheath Companion

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    We have been told to teach strategies before anything else. Start w/ +0, +1, +2...you may have to explicitly tell them that when you're adding 1, the number goes up by 1 number every time. Then doubles. Doubles +1, Doubles +2. If they learn the strategies and can apply them, it gives them far fewer they have to memorize.
     
  23. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I agree!:thumb:

    I swear when I was a kid, I invented my own version of touch math...I used the shapes of the numbers and visualized touch points on which I counted for some addition. Like fingers, it's a temporary aid until one internalizes the 'basic facts'
     
  24. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I know I did. I didn't learn touch math and my touch points are similar but not the same.
     
  25. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    I know one of my grade school teachers taught us the touch points too as a way to make it easier to add up numbers. I know I used that method for a while until I finally just ended up memorizing them (didn't memorize them on purpose, I just slowly did it as the year progressed)
     
  26. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    The hard part is many of the kids that can't memorize the facts quickly struggle even worse with the strategies.

    What is doubles - memorizing a fact - which is the problem in the first place. So, using strategies as the ones you mentioned with kids that have any of the following problems is useless:
    still struggle to count forward and backward
    struggle to skip count by 10s, 5s, or 2s
    struggle with recall of numerical information
    and there are more I can't think of off the top of my head.

    Our local elementary starts with stragegies and don't even consider for a second the pre-requisite skills needed to apply the strategies they are teaching.
     
  27. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    If you use your fingers beyond a certain age you are not making sense of the math!!!!!! I recommend buying any book written by Van de Walle. Particularly a version of the book called teaching elementary mathematics. Or learn about Juli Dixon's way of teaching math (which is the same as Van de Walle's). She has some videos online and so does Van de Walle.
     
  28. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I guess math makes no sense to me. Even though I made A's in calculus, I still will, out of habit, sometimes count on my fingers to get from, say, 86 + 7 or something like that. I understand the concepts, it's just how my brain is wired! (I also have trouble memorizing things in foreign languages, but my grammar is really good, and I have excellent problem solving skills.) Needless to say, I cried in elementary school every time we had a timed test. I tried and tried, but just couldn't learn the math facts.
     
  29. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Funny, after reading this thread, I caught myself using my fingers today. I sometimes "tap" my fingers on the table, particularly when counting up, counting down, or figuring out a date (I just tried to type an explanation of how I do that, but it didn't make sense). I know my facts, cold, but still need a "tool" every now and then.
     
  30. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Computation and applied math are 2 different things! While you need computation skills (or at least compensatory skills for computation) to do upper level math, they are such different skills.

    Speed helps things along, but it isn't a requisite skill for solving complex math problems, but it sure helps the teacher get the job done and allows many, many problems to be assigned.

    We all remember page to page and a half long math problems. Sure, computation must be spot on and the amount of time to do a problem like that when computation is weak will take longer than those with instantaneous recall, but I will bet dollars to donuts that there are those people with weak recall of facts that are muchhhh more intelligent than some that fly through the computation at the speed of light.

    We tend to focus a bit to much on one way of doing things. While I would always encourage automatic recall for facts, some will not get there or get there consistently for many different reasons. What is lacking number sense for one child is not necessarily lacking number sense for another. What is weak recall because of deficits in memory is not the same for another child.

    We need to look at kids as unique and stop trying to push all of those square pegs in round holes. How do we get a child to increase speed? Well, that depends on the child. Don't we first want accuracy above all else?
     
  31. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Hooray!
     
  32. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I have actually had some students in the past sit on their hands when trying to work out simple math computation problems. Quite often I have found the students can do the math, they are just relying on the fingers as a crutch. It becomes simply a matter of breaking the habit.
     
  33. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    In third grade? These are still very young children.
     
  34. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    You do know you can still count on your fingers when you sit on your hands. You just use pressure on the seat or on your seat to represent that 1:1 correspondence. It may appear they are doing math in their head but they are doing math on their behind! :lol:
     
  35. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    If they are clever enough to figure that out, they are smart enough to do it in their heads.
     
  36. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    It isn't about being smart, callmebob. They are different brain fucntions and processes that develop at different rates.
     
  37. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    I still use touch math when adding a long column of numbers.
     
  38. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    By 4th grade they should have that function. But part of it is about smarts. Whether we want to admit it or not, some students are smarter than others.
     
  39. AnonyMS

    AnonyMS SpEd Para! BASE room aide! RTI Facilitator!

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    I still count on my fingers.
     
  40. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    I think instead of worrying about them counting on their fingers, we should teach them patterns and tricks and how to add mentally.

    Like today, I was working with my second grader for about an hour just on mental math. I taught him tricks on how to break a number apart to help him add large numbers in his head. Such as 45 +8. He was able to do this in his head because I taught him to break 8 into 5 and 3, add 45 + 5, then add the three. He did a whole list of problems all like that all in his head because I took the time to teach him these tricks. This same kid loves to count on his fingers. Fine, but he learned how to do a lot of it in his head.
     
  41. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I'm sure so many people here that admit to still using their fingers or other methods to calculate are thrilled to hear you called them "not smart" because they don't have the automatic recall of facts that you believe is a 4th grade function!

    Some of the smartest people I know still use fingers in simple calculations. They understand abstract ideas in ways that few can. They produce unbelieveable things. They just need some manipulatives for calculation.
     

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