Diocesan News

Howard Beach Students Learn Math Can Be Fun

by Eda Galeno

Students from Ave Maria Academy show off their calculators at the school’s second annual Family Math Night.
Students from Ave Maria Academy show off their calculators at the school’s second annual Family Math Night.

Ave Maria Catholic Academy recently held its second annual Family Math Night. The two-hour event was attended by children and their parents from the K-8 school located in Howard Beach.

“At Ave Maria, we work hard to ensure that our children have a strong foundation in the subjects that they will need to be successful in life,” said Anthony Russo, principal.

“One way we do that is to make learning fun. Now that Common Core has been instituted, our teachers are implementing strategies to step up our math curriculum so that we meet and exceed parochial and public educational requirements.”

Linda Holmes, a math consultant, began working with Ave Maria this year. She opened the evening by explaining the new Common Core curriculum. Then demonstrating how math can be fun, she played a few mathematical games with the children, who were eager to play along.

Engaged in Everyday Life

“We’re making an effort to engage the children by talking more math in class,” Holmes said. “And we’re encouraging parents to use math terms with their children at home and during everyday life activities.”

To illustrate that using math can be fun, tables in the gymnasium were set up for children to play baseball and make Chinese tangram puzzles.

At one end of the gymnasium, under the watchful eye of math teacher, Nanette Allen, children huddled around a table playing baseball. After tossing the dice, they’d multiply the numbers shown and eagerly work their way around the baseball diamond.

“The fun part of math is that if we look – we see that we use math every day,” Allen said. “Here we’re using it to play a game. But we also use math to cook, when we get gas, when we shop to calculate taxes and discounts. These everyday life experiences are teachable moments for our children. We can help them see how much math is a part of their life.”

Tackling Tangrams

At tables across the gym, another group of children were cutting shapes out of colored construction paper and making Chinese puzzles called tangrams. As they inspected the shapes, they shifted them around on the table in an effort to fit the puzzle together seamlessly.

“They’re learning to use math with art,” Holmes said. “They are working with triangles, trapezoids, squares and parallelograms to complete a puzzle they’ve created. But until tonight, many of the children didn’t think to look for math in a puzzle.”

By the end of the evening, all the children had played the different games. There were no electronics – but there were plenty of smiles.

“I had a lot of fun tonight,” said fifth grader Vicky Palmeri. “I learned about tangrams and how you use math in baseball. Till tonight, I never thought about how much math is a part of our life outside of school.”