Math Enrichment Challenges Lower School Students to Apply Classroom Lessons to the Real World

By: Mrs. Kristina Jones

York Country Day School launched a math enrichment program in the Lower School in 2015 to meet the needs of students. Through project-based learning and real-world applications, students are challenged to expand their understanding of particular concepts.

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To enrich their understanding of perimeter, our third-graders recently sketched a farm and determined where to place fences to properly allocate spaces for various animals. They needed to determine how much space each animal required and then the cost of the fencing necessary. In another project, the students were asked to furnish a house. They spent time shopping to furnish their new abode by rounding numbers and estimating costs to make sure they stayed within budget.

Our second grade class explored squares and square roots, a topic usually reserved for middle school students in pre-algebra. Students used a simple grid to explain the concept, so that they could understand that 4² can also be represented by a 4-by-4 square on the grid. Then, they can see that 4² equals 16 blocks on the grid. The students worked in pairs to match square cut-outs of the same dimensions that were labeled with both sides of the equations, for example, 4² and 16.

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The exercises completed in enrichment go beyond basic mastery of skills to expand one’s own learning.  Students solve problems in both conventional and innovative ways to increase their problem-solving skills, while explaining their thinking and reasoning. These experiences are taught through direct instruction and guided practice each week to reinforce concepts.