Sidewalk Chalk Math

Luke has struggled with double digit addition, especially when needing to carry numbers/regroup digits. Several weeks ago, before the Christmas break, he started 1:1 after-school tutoring sessions with his second grade teacher. Thanks to her support, his self talk went from “I’m so bad at math!” to “I’m pretty good at this! I know what to do!”  To help him keep his new found skills and strengthen a few more, I made an effort to sprinkle in some math work during this holiday break. One day I took out two sheets of drawing paper and jotted down math equations in purple marker and left them behind on the table to be discovered over lunch.  The natural competitive spirit of the boys took over and they each wanted to prove they could solve a sheet. When Luke was faced with:


+    15


and temporarily a little confused about how to deal with his double digit answer from the ones place,  I took the number 14 and wrote it in on a separate piece scrap of paper, then physically cut the number in two. I placed the piece of paper with the 1 on the top of the tens column and the 4 down below as the answer in the ones column. The visual cue clicked and he didn’t need it to be explained again. I pulled out worksheets from a second grade curriculum book to allow the boys to earn some extra screen time as incentive. Luke’s favorite math activity came the day we had been pent up in the house too long and I needed a breather. I headed outside and grabbed the bucket of sidewalk chalk. I decided to write a few math problems on the cement patio here and there. I sat in the sun and closed my eyes, just needing a few moments to myself. Luke, with instincts similar to a puppy dog, quickly sought out the location of his mother. “Where are you? What are you doing? I want to be near you!” He slowly noticed the math problems. “I can do this!” He immediately grabbed a stick of chalk and knelt down on the sidewalk, rubbing chalk all over his pants, and started his process for solving the problems. He jumped around from one to the next, accumulating more chalk dust, not wanting to leave any problem unsolved. I congratulated him and grabbed the hose to clean up. Luke asked if he could do the spraying. We checked out each problem for accuracy and he cleared it away with a blast of water when answered correctly, his favorite part of the game.