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Monthly Math Newsletter
Monthly Math Newsletter
  • February 2020 - Math Newsletter
    • Have you ever thought about using picture books to learn math with your child? Children of all ages love stories and they are a friendly way to engage in math talk about numbers and other mathematical concepts.  The visual displays can help children understand the math and the story line helps them connect math to their everyday life. 

      Using picture books to explore math can: 

      • Help children learn mathematical concepts and skills 

      • Provide children with a meaningful context for learning mathematics 

      • Supports children’s development and use of mathematical language and communication

      • Help children learn mathematical problem solving, reasoning, and thinking 

      • Provide children with a richer view of the nature of mathematics 

      • Provide children with improved attitudes towards mathematics. 

      Integrating children's literature and mathematics in the classroom: Children as meaning makers, problem solvers, and literary critics Schiro (1997)

      Sometimes it’s hard to find the math in books, here are a few concepts you can talk about when reading the following books:

      Mice o​n Ice by Eleanor May


      Albert and his friends go skating and are making shapes in the ice with their skates. This story highlights the names of shapes and the properties that describe them.

      Math Curse by Jon Scieszka


      When Mrs. Fibonacci, the math teacher, tells the class that you can think of almost everything as a math problem, one of her students feels that he is cursed when he starts creating math problems out of his everyday life. This funny story will help children make connections to the many ways they engage in math problem solving on a daily basis.  

      IF: A Mind-Bending Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers by David J. Smith

      “IF,  scales down or shrinks huge events, spaces and times by comparing them to everyday objects that children understand.” This book engages readers in proportional reasoning and encourages older children to discuss complex world topics.

      Other books that have strong math connections

      Primary Books:

      • Albert is Not Scared by Eleanor May

      • Spaghettis and Meatballs: A Mathematical Story for All by Marilyn Burns

      • Zero by Kathryn Otoshi

      • One by Kathryn Otoshi

      • Counting on Frank by Rod Clement

       Junior/Intermediate Books:

      • Fractions in Disguise: A Math Adventure by Edward Einhorn

      • Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford

      • One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi

      • Anno’s Magic Seeds by Mitsumasa Anno

      For more books please visit: 


      To find out what your child will learn in math this ye​ar or to find other fun activities that you can do together as a family, please visit our Math page​.  Be sure to also try our Problem of the Month

  • January 2020 - Math Newsletter
    • How do you react when you see a math problem? Do your palms start to sweat, does your mind go blank, do you start to feel physically ill? Approximately one third of children feel anxious when doing math - and the scary part is, this anxiety has been found in children as young as 5 years old. We need to help children see that math is more than just right and wrong answers or sets of facts and rules, so they can find the joy and beauty in it. 

      Here are some tips for how you can help your child develop a positive relationship with math:

      • Watch how you talk about math at home - when children hear adults talking about how hard math is or that they do not like math, they adopt these feelings and these can be really large obstacles to overcome 
      • Help your child see that math is an important part of everyday live 
      • Play games that promote math learning (see Resource for Supporting your Child
      • Encourage curiosity  
      • Avoid math tasks that involve time constraints (e.g., Mad Minutes) 
      • Help your child see that mistakes in math are not bad but are opportunities to learn 
      • Ask them questions that focus on the process and not necessarily have one right answer 

      Activity: Primary/Junior/Intermediate 


      Look at this picture with your child and discuss the following questions: 

      • What do you notice? 
      • What do you wonder?

      From there, choose one question that they want to know the answer to, and work together to solve it.  

      ​To find out what your child will learn in math this year or to find other fun activities that you can do together as a family, please visit our Math page.

      Be sure to also try our Problem of the Month.

  • December 2019 - Math Newsletter
    • With the winter break approaching, there are many opportunities to discuss money and financial literacy with your child. Financial literacy involves all aspects of money such as budgeting, saving, investing, debt management, retirement planning, insurance and taxes. 

      “Children need to be financially literate to make informed choices in a complex and fast-changing financial world. With an understanding of the implications of their decisions and with the necessary problem-solving and critical thinking skills, students will be better equipped to function in today’s financial environment.” 

      (The Ontario Working Group on Financial Literacy, 2010)

      Did you know?   

      • Although 95% of teenagers in 2008 understood what a budget is, only 21% of them used one and were able to stick to it.  

      • 54% of teenagers indicated that they would not pay their credit card off in full each month.   

      • 39% of teenagers ranked “how to save money” as the most important topic to learn about. The topic that ranked second (for 20% of students) was “how to use a bank account”.  

      • Teenagers said they wanted to learn about money through interactive means. 

      Source: Credit Canada, National survey of parents and teenagers about financial education, 2008. Released in conjunction with Credit Education Week 2008: Teens Talk About Money. Sponsored in part by the Ontario Association for Credit Counselling Services.

      For more information to support financial literacy at home, please check out A Parent’s Guide Financial Literacy in Ontario Schools, Grades 4 to 12.

      Other resources you may find interesting: 

      To find out what your child will learn in math this year or to find other fun activities that you can do together as a family, please visit the math page​. Be sure to also try our Problem of the Month.

  • November 2019 - Math Newsletter
    • When we support our children with math, we tend to focus on helping them with specific content areas - for example knowing their facts, measuring distances, how to calculate volume - but did you know that there are other ways we can support them in math? Recent research suggests that executive function skills play a critical role in the development of mathematical proficiency and by helping our children develop these skills, we will help them improve their math. 

      Executive function skills are a set of cognitive skills that help us manage behaviour, pay attention, remember and follow instructions and think flexibly. They include: 

      • Planning

      • Organizing 

      • Task initiation 

      • Self-monitoring 

      • Emotional control 

      • Impulse control  

      • Sustained attention 

      • Working memory

      • Cognitive flexibility (ability to shift flexibly from one situation or activity or aspect of a problem to another) 

      Here are some ideas about how to support the development of these executive function skills at home: 

      • When building with blocks or Lego - before building, have your child plan what pieces they are going to use, have them sort pieces based on different attributes

      • When starting a puzzle - ask how they plan to organize the pieces to help finish the puzzle (e.g., organize the pieces by colour, separate the border pieces from the inside pieces) 

      • When playing, encourage your child to make comparisons, look at things from a different perspective or approach the activity in different ways 

      • When reading a book, ask questions that will encourage your child to see things from different characters’ points of view 

      • Practice taking turns when playing 

      • Play games like Simon Says 

      • Ask questions that will require your child to hold multiple pieces of information in their mind in order to get the answer  

      • Play concentration card games 

      • Help your child get started on tasks by asking questions

      • Support your child to come up with a plan on how to achieve a goal and break it down into smaller pieces 

      For more information about the cognitive processing areas, how they affect math learning and ways to support them, please check out the Math Learning Disabilities waterfall resource.

  • October 2019 - Math Newsletter
    • When we think of supporting our children with math, we tend to focus on number sense - understanding numbers and basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), but have you ever thought about working on spatial reasoning? 

      Spatial reasoning involves thinking about the locations and movements of objects and ourselves, both physically and mentally, in space. Developing these skills has been shown to play a significant role in future math achievement. Working on spatial reasoning helps children find multiple entry points into math problems, see math visually and develops the skills necessary for success in many STEM careers. The neat thing is spatial reasoning is malleable and can be improved with education and experience!    

      Spatial reasoning can involve:

      Paying Attention to Spatial Reasoning pg. 4 

      Physical activity is a great way to help children develop their spatial reasoning skills. Here are some other activities to support spatial reasoning: 


      Puzzles and blocks are wonderful ways to help children develop their spatial reasoning abilities. While they engage in these activities, provide them with spatial language to support their learning (e.g.,  circle, triangle, tall, tiny, edge, side, line, between, into, forward)



      Paying Attention to Spatial Reasoning pg. 10 



      Paying Attention to Spatial Reasoning pg. 18 

      To find out what your child will learn in math this year or to find other fun activities that you can do together as a family, please visit our Math page​.  Be sure to also try our Problem of the Month​

  • September 2019 Math Newsletter
    • Talking about numbers is important for children’s math learning. Number talks during daily activities and play has a positive effect on children’s math knowledge in future years.  



      Estimation is an important part of our everyday lives, and in school, it helps students judge the reasonableness of their solutions. 

      Show your child this picture or give them a single sheet of toilet paper and a full roll:

      Image of single sheet of toilet paper next to a full roll of toilet paper 

      Ask them, “How many sheets are on the roll of toilet paper? What is an estimate is too low? What is an estimate that is too high? What is an estimate that is just right? Why? ” 

      For additional images, check out the Estimation180 website.

      Some tips to help your child understand the meaning of numbers: 

      • Count and discuss how many objects you see instead of just reciting the counting sequence (primary)

      • Count and label the number of objects (e.g., “There are three books. One, two, three!”) (primary) 

      • Watch your child’s number gestures. Sometimes their gestures show they understand the quantity, but they say the wrong number (e.g., for a set of two books the child holds up two fingers but says “three books”) (primary)

      • As your child counts objects, point to each object and model holding up your fingers to show the quantity counted (primary)  

      • Use numbers that are larger than the numbers your child already understands or uses (primary/junior/intermediate) 

      • Use numbers that you find in your everyday lives. Compare quantities of items and prices to determine which is the better buy when shopping (primary/junior/intermediate) 

      • Talk to your child about how you are using numbers in your daily life. This will show them why numbers are important and how useful math is (primary/junior/intermediate)   

      Making number talk a regular part of daily life helps your child build a strong knowledge of number, which is foundational for future math learning!

  • June 2019 - Summertime Math!
    • Summertime Math!

      Summer is a time for rest and relaxation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with math. There are numerous ways to embed math into everyday summer activities. Here is a list to get you started:

      • Monitoring temperature
      • Outdoor scavenger hunts
      • Gardening
      • Cooking
      • Grocery shopping
      • Budgeting for a Trip
      • Packing suitcases/Trunk
      • Scheduling
      • Mapping

      Happy summer!​

      To find out what your child will learn in math this year or to find other fun activities that you can do together as a family, please also visit the YRDSB Mathematics website homepage. Be sure to also try our Problem of the Month​.​​

  • May 2019 - ​Visual Math
  • April 2019 - Financial Literacy
    • Financial Literacy​

      There are many opportunities to engage your children in conversations about money. From a very young age children are interested in learning about money and leveraging these conversations can have lifelong benefits. From learning the value of coins and dollars, to budgeting and finances, talking about money supports many different mathematical concepts (e.g., adding, subtracting, percentages and estimation).

      Here is a parent guide with more information about supporting financial literacy at home - A Parent’s Guide: Financial Literacy in Ontario Schools, Grades 4 to 12

      To find out what your child will learn in math this year or to find other fun activities that you can do together as a family, please also visit the YRDSB Mathematics website homepage. Be sure to also try our Problem of the Month​.​

  • March 2019 - ​Spring Math: Math is Outside Too!
    • Spring Math: Math is Outside Too!

      Spring and nice weather make for a great time to get outdoors and connect with math. Whether you are taking a walk, filling compost bags with leaves or starting to build that garden shed, there are many opportunities to engage in rich mathematical discussions with your child.

      • Here are some questions you can pose to your child as you engage with nature:

      • What shapes do you see in that house?

      • How tall do you think that tree is?

      • How far do you think we walked today?

      • How many piles of leaves do you think will fit into this bag?

      • How many ___ did you see on our walk?

      • How many windows do you think are in that building

      • How long do you think it will take us to walk one kilometer?

      • If we double our pace how long do you think it will take us to get home?

      So the next time you spend some time outdoors with your child, take some time to engage in some math talk!

      You may also be interested in reading a new article for parents written by Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University.

      Developing Mathematical Mindsets, The Need to Interact with Numbers Flexibly and Conceptually

      To find out what your child will learn in math this year or to find other fun activities that you can do together as a family, please also visit the YRDSB Mathematics website homepage. Be sure to also try our Problem of the Month​.​

  • February 2019 - Games
    • Games

      Using games to support your child at home to reinforce math concepts they are learning in class can be fun for the whole family! Games provide children with opportunities to explore mathematical concepts such as number concepts, patterns and relationships. It also allows them to use models and strategies they are familiar with (e.g., arrays, ten frames, skip counting). Some math games are commercially available but most can be played with common household objects. In fact, most games that are not considered “math” games have many math concepts already in them. Try highlighting some of those concepts as you are playing.

      For some game suggestions, go to the "Resources For Supporting Your Child In Mathematics" tab found on the YRDSB Mathematics website homepage.

      To find out what your child will learn in math this year or to find other fun activities that you can do together as a family, please also visit
       the YRDSB Mathematics website homepage. Be sure to also try our Problem of the Month​.

  • January 2019 - Questioning
    • Questioning

      Using effective questions when talking about math, supports the development of your child’s mathematical reasoning. The use of questioning provides children with opportunities to share and clarify their ideas, draw conclusions, and explain and explore new strategies. With good intention, we often rush to provide our children all the information they need to solve a math problem. By giving your child this information too quickly, they may not think deeply about the problem or engage in mathematical processes.

      Here is a list of questions you can ask to support your child’s mathematical thinking:

      • How did you solve the problem?

      • What did you do?

      • What strategy did you use?

      • How did you estimate what the answer could be?

      • What would happen if …?

      • Tell me what is the same? What is different?

      • How do you know?

      • How did you know where …?

      • How did you know which …?

      • How did you know when …?

      • How do you know your/our answer is reasonable?

      • Would this work every time? Can you/we think of any examples that don’t work?

      • Have you/we found all the possibilities? How do you/we know?

      • What have you/we discovered about __________ while solving this problem?

      • What have you/we learned?


      Primary/Junior - Math Before Bed

      Show your child an image and ask them “What do you notice? What are you wondering about?”. This promotes mathematical thinking - and then you can have them investigate one of their wonderings and come up with a solution. What a great time to ask them the questions above to really uncover what they are thinking!!  


      What do you notice?

      What do you wonder?

      (Image and problem taken from​)

      Junior/Intermediate - Would You Rather Math​

      On this site, there are a variety of scenarios that your child will be able to make a choice and use reasoning skills to justify their mathematical thinking.  


      Whichever option is chosen, justify your reasoning with math!​

      (Image and problem taken from

      To find out what your child will learn in math this year or to find other fun activities that you can do together as a family, please also visit the YRDSB Mathematics website homepage. Be sure to also try our Problem of the Month​.​

  • December 2018 - Winter Math
    • Winter Math

      Winter break is right around the corner! This is a great opportunity to take time with your child and connect math to the real world. Below are some ideas that will help get you started:

      • Grocery shopping can involve money, budgeting, estimating, adding, subtracting, and measuring

      • Cooking can involve weighing, measuring, ordering, estimating, adding, and multiplying

      • Organizing for a party can mean matching numbers of people to plates, cutlery, area of tables, ordering food, and seating arrangements

      • Going on a trip by car or plane involves time, distance, budgeting, speed, comparing various routes, and shape scavenger hunts

      • Completing a half finished symmetrical design using playdough (e.g., half a butterfly, tree)

      • Building a snowman can involve measuring, spatial reasoning, and estimating

      These ideas will help your child see the importance of math in their everyday lives through fun and interactive ways.

      The Ontario Ministry of Education recently released information for families about Focusing on the Fundamentals of Math.  You can access this information at

      To find out what your child will learn in math this year or to find other fun activities that you can do together as a family, please also visit the YRDSB Mathematics website homepage. Be sure to also try our Problem of the Month​.​

  • November 2018 - ​Problem Solving
    • Problem Solving

      At school, students have opportunities to engage in problem solving tasks. At home, mathematical problem solving can take on many different forms. For example, budgeting, time scheduling, measuring and constructing are all situations where children would need to problem solve. Problem solving, being the process of finding solutions to challenging issues, is an essential component of your child’s mathematical journey.

      As your child works through problem solving tasks at home, here are some strategies you can encourage them to use and questions you can ask them:


      • Drawing a diagram or picture

      • Make a simpler but similar problem

      • Use concrete objects to represent the problem

      • Use a mathematical model (e.g., ten frame, number line, array, etc.)

      • Guess and check

      • Look for a pattern

      • Work backwards

      • Use a formula

      • Check your answer - does it make sense?


      • How would you state this problem in your own words?

      • How does this problem remind you of a problem you have solved before?

      • What problem solving strategies have you tried?

      • What strategy will you try next?

      • Were there parts of the problem that were easy or challenging?

      • Does your answer make sense? Why?

      * Strategies and Questions taken from

      Activities: Below some problems that you can try with your child  


      Primary Math Problem: Three Block Towers

      Image of Three Block Towers problem from nrich website 

      Junior Math Problem: Shape Times Shape

      Image of Shape Times Share problem from nrich website 

      (Image taken from​)

      Intermediate Math Problem: Friday 13th


      Can you explain why every year must contain at least one Friday the thirteenth?

      What is the greatest number of Friday the thirteenths that can fall in one year?

  • October 2018 - Promoting a Growth Mindset
    • Promoting a Growth Mindset

      “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” (Dweck, 2013)

      "Before your child can learn mathematics, he or she needs to believe in his or her ability to do so. That’s where you come in. You can be your child’s 1st role model for learning. When you engage with your child in a supportive, relaxed atmosphere, your child will enjoy exploring the world of mathematics." (Doing Mathematics with Your Child, Kindergarten to Grade 6)



      Which One Doesn’t Belong is a great activity that promotes mathematical thinking because there are many “right” answers - it all depends on their reasoning.

      Show your child this picture:


      Ask them, “which one doesn’t belong? Why?”

      For additional images, check out:

      Another great way to get your child talking about math is using images and questions from Estimation 180. This website has a series of images and encourages children to think about answers that are too high, too low and just right (Goldilock estimates).

      Here is an example:


      How many total cheese balls in the six containers?

      For additional images and prompts, please see:

      To find out what your child will learn in math this year or to find other fun activities that you can do together as a family, please visit  Be sure to also try our Problem of the Month

  • September 2018 - Math Newsletter
    • Focusing on the Fundamentals of Math, Grades 1-8

      The Ontario government recently released a parent fact sheet and a teacher’s guide on Focusing on the Fundamentals of Math in grades 1 to 8.  In the guide, teachers are asked to focus attention on expectations from the Number Sense and Patterning strands of the current math curriculum and are also asked to focus on student understanding and sense-making before formal methods, such as algorithms, are introduced.  

      York Region teachers have always worked to develop strong number sense and computational fluency while supporting student understanding of underlying concepts.  All educators in our board continue to support students in becoming confident problem solvers who use mathematical knowledge, skills and processes to be contributing members of a changing society.  

      In order to support your child with math at home and in day-to-day life, this site lists useful websites, activities and games that you can reference and use.  Thank you for the important role you play in the creation of confident problem solvers.​

      Math is everywhere!

      Septemb​er is a great time to start building routines at home which can support children in developing a positive disposition towards math. Providing opportunities at home that promote math talk can support a child’s mathematical knowledge and understanding.  Whether you are, shopping, cooking, playing a game, organizing, taking a walk, or reading, there are many opportunities to highlight math in different ways.


      Primary - Grocery Shopping

      • Ask your child to estimate how many of a grocery item (for example, a type of fruit or vegetable, bread or pet food) your family will need for the week.

      • Ask, “Why do you think that amount will be needed?”

      • At the end of the week, have your child count the number actually used.

      Junior/Intermediate - Budget Challenge

      • Give your child an imaginary budget to spend at his or her favourite store (flyers or online catalogues may be helpful). Without writing down the amounts, have your child choose items to purchase. He or she will have to use estimation to stay within the budget. Then, have your child add up the actual costs. Did she or he stay within the budget? For a challenge, help your child estimate any taxes.

      Tips for Math

      • Build strong, positive attitudes about math. When children feel positively engaged and successful, they are more likely to stick with an activity or a problem to find a solution.

      • Begin with activities that meet your child’s level of mathematical understanding. Early success in solving problems will build your child’s confidence. Gradually move to activities that provide more challenge for your child.

      • If you and your child are more comfortable in a language other than English, use it. Your child will understand concepts better in the language that he or she knows best

      (Taken and adapted from Doing Mathematics With Your Child, Kindergarten to Grade 6: A Parent Guide)

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