Teaching Math

The Best Ways to Teach Your Kid to Remember a Number

Make Phone Number Music

Kids are great at learning all of those classic children's songs. Setting important phone numbers to your child's favorite tunes can make them easier to memorize. For example, you might set your song to the tune of the "ABC" song, with lyrics such as, "555, 575, 5565. I am earning my phone number, I will teach you, do not wonder," and repeat. Get as creative or silly as you would like with it. You could come up with a clapping rhythm or movements that can further help your child remember the phone numbers.

Practice on a Phone

Give your child an old house phone or a toy phone that she can practice dialing important phone calls on. She can play and pretend she is talking on the phone while you challenge her with dialing the phone numbers you want her to remember. Start with the easy-to-remember, but very important phone number, 911. Role-play scenarios with your child, based on things that might happen that would be a reason for her to dial 911. Make sure she knows that 911 is only for life-threatening emergencies and to never dial it just to play around.

Phone Number Challenges

Have random phone number quizzes that test your child's memorization of important phone numbers. You can make it fun by randomly calling out, "Number challenge! What's Dad's cell phone number?" every once in a while. Tell your child to always be ready for a number challenge because they can happen at any time. Give small rewards if she can get it right each time. Always praise your child for remembering the numbers and encourage her to keep trying if she is struggling with remembering. Positive encouragement will only motivate her to continue working on it.

Phone Number Craft

Break out the glitter glue, scissors and construction paper to have your child write out important phone numbers in decorative fashion. Incorporating phone numbers with arts and crafts, especially if your child enjoys doing them, can help reinforce the numbers in her head. Under each important number you want her to memorize, write the name of the person or the organization whose number it is. You can tape the decorated numbers to a wall in your child's room, where she has to look at them every day.

Associative Properties of Math for Kids


Use beads or blocks to demonstrate the associative property to children.
Use beads or blocks to demonstrate the associative property to children.

Given A + B + C, does it matter which addition you perform first? For example, if A = 8, B = 4, and C = 2, is (8 + 4) + 2 equivalent to 8 + (4 + 2)? You can answer this question by representing A, B and C with groups of blocks (or beads). You can either add eight blocks to four blocks, and then add two blocks to that total -- or you can add four blocks to two blocks, and then add eight blocks to that total. The resulting grand pile will be the same in both cases: 14 blocks. It does not matter which numbers you add first because addition is associative.


Multiplication also is associative. For example, consider the formula for the volume of a box: Volume = length x width x height. You can either multiply the length times the width, and then multiply that result by the height -- or you can multiply the width times the height, and then multiply that result by the length. If a box is 8 inches long, 4 inches wide, and 2 inches high, multiplying (8 x 4) x 2 = 8 x (4 x 2) = 64. It does not matter how you associate or group the numbers that contribute to the final answer.


Subtraction, on the other hand, is not associative. You can see this if you take the same numbers used above, but substitute a minus sign for the preceding signs. The resulting sequences are (8 - 4) - 2 followed by 8 - (4 - 2). If you carry out the subtraction, you will see that (8 - 4) - 2 = 2, but 8 - (4 - 2) = 6. The two sequences are not equivalent. It matters how you group or associate numbers that you are going to subtract from each other, so subtraction is not associative.


Division also is not associative. Again take the numbers used above, but substitute a division sign for the preceding signs. The resulting sequences are (8 / 4) / 2 followed by 8 / (4 / 2). If you carry out the division, you will see that (8 / 4) / 2 = 1, but 8 / (4 / 2) = 4. The two sequences are not equivalent. It matters how you group or associate numbers that you are going to divide, so division is not associative.

How to Help Your Child Understand Simple Addition

Practice counting and recognizing numbers with your child so he has a firm grasp of numbers. By the time a child begins school, he should recognize numbers up to 10 and he should count to 20, according to a pamphlet published by the Jefferson County Public School District in Louisville, Kentucky.

Place counters or blocks into sets to illustrate simple addition, suggests educators Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts, with the Family Education website. For example, you might place two counters together as one set and three counters together as another set. Ask your child to tell you how many counters she would have if she combined the sets. Help her count the items, if necessary, so she can see that combining the sets would make five counters altogether.

Tell your child a simple story and ask him to illustrate it. For example, you might say, one mouse lived under the stairs all alone. Two new mice moved in. How many mice live together now? Have your child draw one mouse as a set and two mice as a set. Help him count the mice altogether to see that adding the two sets together would equal three. Ask him to draw the three mice living together happily.

Write an addition sentence below the picture to introduce your child to the concept of a number sentence. Place the number one below the one-mouse set and the number two below the two-mice set. Place a plus sign between the numbers, an equal sign after the numbers and then write the number three as the sum of the numbers below the picture of the three mice.

Practice addition as often as possible so your child becomes comfortable with the concept. For example, in the grocery store, add apples together in the produce section and at home, add books together as you put them away on the bookshelf.

Things You Will Need

  • Math manipulatives (counters or blocks)
  • Paper
  • Crayons

How to Teach Children to Use the Order of Operations

Compare solving math problems to reading a word sentence -- both techniques involve working from left to right. Tell your child that when examining a math expression, she needs to always begin at the left and work to the right to find the operations to solve first, according to the Eduplace website.

Show your child how to examine an expression to find parentheses. Explain to your child that he should solve any operations that exist within parenthesis first, working from left to right.

Explain to your child that any exponents in an expression come next, also working from left to right if more than one exponent occurs.

Instruct your child to perform the first multiplication or division operation in an expression (outside of parentheses), whichever operation comes first. Your child should then work her way from left to right to solve every multiplication or division operation as they occur from left to right.

Teach your child to then solve every addition or subtraction operation as they occur from left to right in the expression.

Provide practice problems that include various operations, including parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition and subtraction. As you work on problems, show your child how the presence of or absence of parentheses can dramatically change the answer he gets when working expressions. Continue to have your child practice solving expressions until he demonstrates a thorough understanding of order of operations.

Math Activities for Older Infants

Object Permanence

Object permanence, the understanding that items still exist even when they cannot be seen, is a developmental concept that paves the way for developing number skills, according to early childhood development professionals writing for Scholastic. Babies gain a sense of object permanence at around 5 to 6 months of age. You can encourage this development by playing simple games with your baby, like peek-a-boo, or by hiding toys under containers and giving him a chance to discover that the hidden toy exists.

Water Play

Simply playing with water and empty containers can help your baby begin to understand the mathematical concepts of weight and mass, in addition to the difference between empty and full. PBS Parents recommends that you place your baby in the bathtub with clean bowls and cups and allow her to play freely, with supervision. You can join in the play with her and take the time to explain when your cup or bowl is full and empty.


According to Scholastic Teachers, an infant as young as 3 months old can anticipate regular events in his routine. Predictable daily routines can help him understand patterns and develop thinking skills that lead to mathematical thinking. You can encourage this development by establishing predictable routines in his day-to-day life as often as possible, such as always reading a story or giving him a bath before bedtime or a nap.

Other Activities

Counting your infant’s toes and clapping her hands together gives her an awareness of her body, which lays the groundwork for spatial relationships in math, according to Scholastic Teachers. You can also encourage the development of her future math skills by singing nursery rhymes that contain counting, or by giving her a shape sorter toy to play with when she is able to sit up and grab objects.