Recently, I discovered the math activities of Ronit Bird.


Ronit Bird is the author of several books about Dyscalculia.

She has helpful tips for parents and teachers about concrete manipulatives and building up a sense of number through activities more than worksheets. I confess, I wish I had had this more when I was a kid.

The tricky thing about math and activities even if you’re home schooling or home-enriching is that students who are weak in an area will often not want to do it, even if it’s something that would be beneficial for them to do.




In our family, we had one child who was very, very good at all types of speed-based computer games, and another who was decidedly not good at them.

It was sort of the “Matthew Effect” that’s been described for reading but in electronic games. The child who was already good at it, got better and better, while the one who wasn’t remained unchanged.

I think it’s a natural tendency to gravitate toward things that you are better at, and to avoid things that you’re not.

However, there are also subjects that only really get interesting once you are good enough at something that you can move onto the challenging, creative, and at least more interesting parts. Higher math is also required for some careers, too, so finding ways of math learning that fit you well may help keep you in the running for requirements at the university level.

When I look at these dominoes and math activities, I can see the good work in them – at the same time realizing, while looking at them, that they would not have looked fun to me when I was still counting on my fingers and messing up when I missed a finger.

But I think they would have helped and that’s why I’m sharing them with you all.

We had two kids who were in many respects opposite when it came to things like board games and math facts…some of that may have reflected differences between my husband and I. Dyscalculia might have been inherited from my dad’s side.

Clearly Brock’s family were math wizzes in comparison – accountants, bookkeepers, and even games at family get togethers (like card games involving numbers) never would have been seen among my family members.

If you have a child who would benefit from math activities, play the games with her or him yourself and not have them play against a sibling…especially if that other sibling will always (or nearly always win).

The association between numbers and the spot patterns on dice will get better as well as the association with rods and squares.



As Ronit recommends, don’t rush into abstract and written work.

If your aim is to get your student on more solid footing mathematically next summer before returning to (we hope) a conventional school year, then slow and steady with manipulatives may be just the way to do it.

From her 5 Tips for Teachers handout, see how Cuisenaire rods can be shown to represent number decomposition in multiplication.



Check our Ronit’s free math games HERE. More games are available in her books.

Simple games like Tic Tac Toe tables reinforce multiplication facts with less drudgery than looking at the same list again and again.



Race with halves and quarters gives students practice with 1/2 and 1/4 fractions.



In Ronit’s Domino races activities, students do various additions and subtractions to get consecutive numbers.



For dyscalculic students, regular, but brief practice of this sort can improve sequencing as well as simple addition and subtraction.

As long as practice is not stressful and timed, most students can get into a regular habit of “doing math” and building up math sense and automaticity in a slow and steady way.



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