Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Learning Those Tough Teens

I saw this cute game at Montessori Tidbits, which Leann had gotten from the makinglearningfun yahoo group. When I asked her about the game, was kind enough to go back to the game's inventor (Debi Goodman) to get permission to share it with me
You can now fnd it at the blog, Mrs Goodman's Frog Blog, where it is available to print out.
(By the way, when I got it, I could easily change the name of it, so I added Quentin's name so it would be personalized for him.)
Quentin has a great grasp of simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, but still has difficulty with those tough teens. Sometimes he says their name correctly, sometimes he understands what they represent, but at other times he gets them confused and mixed up. Statistics say that only 50% of 5th graders in the U.S. understand place value but that over 90% of Japanese and Chinese children understand place value in first grade. In looking at why, it was discovered that in the Asian number system, numbers 11-19, for example, are called 1-ten, one through 1-ten, nine, instead of having unique names as we do in English. This is continued throughout all their numbers, going on with the twenties and so on, calling them 2-tens instead of our shortened version. This constant reinforcement of what the numbers actually stand for give the Asians an concept of place value at a very early age.

I needed to figure out a way for Quentin to get the practice he needed with this without making it a miserable process, and a game always seems to make learning facts more enjoyable.
I couldn't find any cute plastic penguins to use as game pieces, so we just used counters. (Why is it you can never find the toys you want when you want to use them for school?) He really enjoyed playing and we played four games in a row the first time we sat down to play. When we landed on a square, you had to say the name of the number and what the number represents. For example, for the numeral 14, he had to say "fourteen," and "one ten and four." He had some trouble at first in saying both of those elements but after hearing me say a few of them on my turns, he was able to do them all. A few more times and he will have them down and it was all done in a very fun way -with a little game instead of a number of workbook pages.

We have played for treasure.

We have played it in a candy land.

We have played it for kisses.

Mathwire has more ideas for learning the teens.


  1. Hmm, I wonder if the problem is due to English language or to inability to present the concept and to practice enough to master it. Asian schools do have very different focus on math in addition to their language advantage.

  2. It's true - toys are never around when they'd fit in perfectly with a lesson!

  3. Thanks for mentioning my blog! Glad you had fun playing it! We love it too... and when my son saw it, he immediately asked if could play it again!

  4. What a quick & easy way to reinforce number value -- thanks for sharing!

  5. Loved this activity as it involves so much learning and still there is so much fun :), kids will love this!

    Check out the Easter Egg Bunny I made this week - http://blog.memetales.com/2011/04/easter-egg-bunny-kids-craft/

  6. I think all kids can benefit from doing more work on place value. I'm in the middle of reading about Charlotte Mason's view on place value and she places a strong emphasis on mastering the teens before moving to the hundreds.

    Interesting statistics. I wish I can say it's only in math that the US is lagging behind. I think education overall needs revamping in our country.

    K loves penguins so I know she will love this activity. I'll have to remember to say, "One ten-one, One ten-two, etc.) Thanks for sharing.

  7. I made the game--glad you can use it for your son


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It means so much.