Math nights add up to BIG fun


When two Title I instructional coaches for Seymour schools put their heads together to plan a fun after-school event this year, they came up with a BIG idea.

They decided to use oversized versions of popular games to teach and enforce skills in counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication and geometry allowing students to become MEGA mathematicians.

Bridget Longmeier and Whitney Reinhart work at separate schools but wanted to combine their efforts so students at Margaret R. Brown and Seymour-Jackson Elementary schools both would benefit.

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Using Title I funds, they purchased multiple sets of jumbo-sized Connect 4s, inflatable dice, dominoes, playing cards and other games.

On Tuesday night at Brown and Thursday night at Jackson, families were invited to the schools to learn and play the games together.

Reinhart said turning lessons and skills into games is the best way to help students learn.

“When a child is struggling academically, they aren’t going to like learning,” she said. “So we try to make it fun for them and their parents so it doesn’t seem like work and it helps them remember the skills better.”

The programs were well-attended with 50 to 60 families at Brown and 40 to 50 at Jackson and gave parents the opportunity to be more involved and take an active role in their child’s education.

One of the components of Title I funding is parent or grandparent involvement, Longmeier said.

Teddy Tatlock, 7, and his grandmother, Janice Tatlock, appreciated the opportunity to be able to come to Brown together for activities.

“We try to come to all the school events,” she said. “It’s something for him to do, and we just love it.”

After playing each of the five different games, families were given mini versions to take home so parents can continue to work with their children to improve their math skills.

Teddy said his favorite game was Connect 4.

“I won every game,” he said.

“That’s because he is so smart,” Janice added. “He does really good in school. I’ve been doing flashcards with him since he was 3.”

Title I is a federally funded program for qualifying schools to provide students with extra instructional support and services during the school day and unique learning opportunities throughout the year.

Funding is used to hire Title I staff, including Longmeier, Reinhart and instructional assistants, that provide another layer of support for students in math and reading.

Money also can be used to purchase supplies and materials, such as the math games, to enhance the learning experience for children.

If a teacher notices a student is struggling academically, Title I can use funding to utilize resources for teachers as well to help those students.

A mega-themed literacy night will be conducted in the spring with larger-than-life reading activities being planned, Longmeier said.

Seymour-Redding Elementary School also is a Title I school and will have their mega math night at a later date.

Olivia Wilp, 9, and her sister, Aubree, 6, agreed math can be fun. They liked being able to play games at Brown Elementary with their mom and dad.

“I love math. It’s my favorite subject,” Olivia said.

Taking turns, the girls rolled big inflatable dice, adding up the numbers to see who could get to 100 first.

Both Amanda and Kyle Wilp are teachers and said any event that includes parents is worth it.

“I think it’s a great way to get parents involved,” Amanda said. “Parents are able to set a good example for their kids by showing an interest in what they’re doing at school.”

At Jackson Elementary, 9-year-old Lauren McGrath and 10-year-old Cassidy Griffin sat down to a unique game of dominoes. One girl would flip over a domino, and then they would have to add the number of dots on it.

Whoever was able to add the fastest got to keep the domino, and the person with the most dominoes at the end was named the winner.

After a round of addition, the girls played again, but multiplying the dots instead of adding them, making it more difficult.

“It’s so much fun,” Griffin said of the games. “Even if it is doing math.”

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