After mind-growing lessons that focus on conceptual understanding, can students succeed on such abstract tests that only measure procedural fluency? Will the tests cause trauma or anxiety in our youngest students (as it often does in teachers!)? At Slackwood Elementary School in New Jersey, math specialist George Regan set out to answer these questions with some research of his own. We’ve assembled this case study to share his findings and encourage you in your pursuit of best practices in math instruction…

Continue reading“A little to the left . . . no, the left . . . not your left, my left!” Even adults get into this confusing situation at times, so imagine how tricky relative positions are for children! While above/below and in front of/behind come fairly easily, left/right relationships are much more challenging.

Have you ever wondered why? In this post, we’ll explain this fun math quirk…

Continue readingLet’s face it: real-world problems don’t come in neat rows…

However, the mind-growing challenges of math enrichment (or non-routine problem solving) are often only rationed out to students identified as “gifted.” Is that really good teaching practice?

Research has shown that an important condition for learning is the expectation that students will do so. Allowing students to press through challenges, and believing that they can and will succeed, leads to excitement and ownership of learning…

Continue readingWhen it comes to teaching numbers, where to start? There’s number names, digit recognition, count sequence, one-to-one matching, and number formation, oh my!

Have no fear, Happy Numbers is here! In this post, we’ll walk you through the forest of early numeracy skills, focusing on how to teach the sequence of numbers 1-5. We’ll show you how to apply these suggestions in the classroom or use them online. Plus, we’re including some FREE printables!

Continue readingTrust your intuition. Did you know that even 4- and 5-year-olds can develop math intuition? Even students who don’t yet have a strong foundation of numeration can grasp the concepts of “the same” and “more.” Happy Numbers teaches students to rely on intuitive understanding by using a visual approach.

This post will show you how we at Happy Numbers teach young learners to compare without counting. Plus, we’re including FREE printables you can use in your classroom!

Continue readingFor the youngest learners, explicit instruction of number permanence is vital to working with larger numbers, operations, and place value later on. Happy Numbers is here to help you teach this important concept.

In this post, we share ideas and strategies for teaching number permanence. Plus, at the end you’ll find FREE printables incorporating these ideas for numbers 1-3 and 4-5. Use them for independent practice, homework, or reteaching!

Make learning number permanence as easy as 1, 2, 3…

Continue readingWith enough rote practice, most students can learn to “carry the one” or “exchange/trade ten” to solve multi-digit addition and subtraction problems. But to truly understand the process and become fluent with it, students need to take a look under the hood and see the place value principles at work behind the operations. That’s why at Happy Numbers we focus on why the standard algorithm works, rather than how it works. We believe that by building understanding first, fluency will follow (and not vice versa). As a result, students are better able to find and correct errors and they are better-equipped to work with larger numbers and even decimals.

This post will share some of the activities we suggest for building deep conceptual understanding of column addition and subtraction. We’ll also explain how we scaffold instruction to help students create meaning, rather than just memorize steps. All of the activities shown are available at Happy Numbers, but you can re-create them in your classroom offline as well…