Pointers for Parents

Here at Zach’s Backpack, we provide games and activities that are fun for families to share. All of the materials for the games at Zach’s Backpack are simple household items such as dried beans, paper clips, elbow macaroni, cereal pieces, small toys and pencil/paper.  Begin to look around your home and see things to estimate, count, add, subtract and multiply. Mathematical thinking is all around you! Opportunities to share mathematical ideas are everywhere!


Enjoy the opportunities  presented to talk about mathematics here at Zach's Backpack's Pointers for Parents. 


Let’s start with counters. You will need these as playing pieces, as well as manipulatives to show mathematical thinking with real objects. Often when explaining, using a simple object as a model helps communicate what is going on in the brain. You can use them to explain how you would solve AND the child uses it to show how she would solve. Sometimes the ways to solve are different. That is great! 

 First Steps 

Can you estimate how many steps it will take you to get to the refrigerator from where you are at this moment? Walking over to the fridge is something you do multiple times a day. Have you thought about counting the steps? Estimate how many right now. Share your estimate with your child. Tell her why you think it would be that many steps vs. an amount that is much larger or much smaller. Ask her to take a guess and explain how she came up with that estimate. Take a walk over. Are her steps different stride distance than yours? Would it make a difference if you did toe/heel walk? Try another estimate walk, like walking to the front door. This time after you have shared your estimate AND your reasoning, STOP half way. Take a moment to revise your estimate and explain why. The reasoning is the most important part. Sharing each other’s thinking is where the true mathematical thinking happens.


Remembering that an estimate is an educated guess. Keep in mind when talking about estimation. “Good” estimates are the ones that can be explained with reasoning. To support children in good estimates, inquire about their reasoning. Ask, "why do you think that?" Share your thinking as well. 


Easy to keep going with everyday estimations…

  • Steps to the car

  • Steps to their room

  • Change the stride size (think Mother-May-I game ~ giant steps, baby steps, twirling steps, etc)

  • Ask her to come up with somewhere to walk and estimate the steps prior.

  • So fun!





SO many games to play with dice! You can pull some out of an old game box, grab some at the dollar store or use virtual dice. There are several virtual dice on the internet that are free and fun to use. 


*No dice on hand? Need numbers other than 1 - 6?  As a classroom teacher, I would sometimes tear up pieces of paper, write numbers on each slip. Wad up each slip. Then take turns picking a number, unwadding and play that number ~ randomly generated. Super simple and always on hand! 




Random Dice Roller ( you can select how many dice you are rolling)



Virtual Dice 







Dice Games for Children



Math Games Using Dice



What do we do all day ~ Dice Games



We are Teachers website


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