Grandparents at Springmill

Some of the parents and grandparents at a Springmill Learning Center workshop look over material about helping to spur young children’s interest in math at home. Meg Strong, math coach at Springmill STEM Elementary, is at the back. (Submitted Photo)

MANSFIELD -- A mathematics workshop for parents and grandparents of children in kindergarten through third grade began with a story Thursday morning at the Springmill Learning Center.

The two-hour workshop, “How to Raise a Mathematician,” focused on the way children can have fun with math and see it in everyday activities around the home. The program was led by Terri Bucci, associate professor of teaching and learning at Ohio State University-Mansfield, and Meg Strong, math coach at Springmill STEM Elementary.

Bucci began by reading “The Mitten,” a Ukrainian folk tale adapted into a children’s story which she said can be used to help children understand math sequence, the order in which things happen.

In the story a boy’s grandmother knits him a pair of white mittens. On his way through the woods he drops one in the snow. First a mole crawls inside the warm mitten then, in sequence, a rabbit, a hedgehog, a badger, a fox and a brown bear. The grandmother’s knitting holds fast and the mitten stretches beyond belief.

Finally, a field mouse crawls inside, resting on the bear’s nose. That causes the bear to sneeze and the animals are scattered in all directions. On his way home the boy finds his lost mitten with no idea what has occurred.

“This is a lesson on using children’s literature to teach math. You can ask your child or grandchild to draw pictures of what happened in the book and explain the sequence in which the different animals got into the mitten,” Bucci said. “Any book that has a sequence of events can be used -- reading the book and deciding the sequence involve both math and language arts standards.”

During the balance of the workshop Bucci and Strong demonstrated other math activities and games that can be used at home.

Gabe Costa, principal of Springmill STEM Elementary, said parents and grandparents play an important role in helping young children understand mathematics.

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“Parents are the first teacher,” Costa said. “If your child can see you enjoying math games and talking about math during shared activities, math becomes a natural and fun part of everyday life.”

Springmill Learning Center, which features state-of-the-art math and science galleries, is an extension of Mansfield City Schools and is operated in cooperation with Ohio State University-Mansfield.

Larry Gibbs is a spokesman for Mansfield City Schools.