What do relationships, math, and a deck of cards have in common? Family night for pre-kindergarten! Several families gathered in the cafeteria to celebrate family night in May. Students helped the parents choose milk, foods, and dessert before beginning the evening’s activities.  It went a long way towards our parent engagement efforts!

The students had been studying geometric shapes in class. Flower pictures for May were created by cutting out and folding triangles. Students glued these “flowers” onto construction paper that had been colored by the students and parents together. Children explained to the parents the characteristics of a triangle and how it differs from a square.

When the evening’s art activity was completed, families were given playing cards and were guided through several math activities that could be accomplished using the deck of cards. The goal was to teach students to sort, categorize, and create simple math problems.

First, parents sorted the cards and removed the face cards. Students then sorted the deck into two categories: red and black. The next task was to sort by shape: hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades. Parents then helped students sort each group from greatest to least or least to greatest. Students were asked to find four like-number cards. Next, the cards were used to create math problems using like shapes, e.g., 2 hearts + 4 hearts = 6 hearts.

Once the students were comfortable with the process, the challenge’s difficulty was increased. Students and parents were instructed to use the red cards for the addends and the black cards for the sum. For instance, 2 hearts + 4 diamonds = 6 spades. Parents were encouraged to work with the students at least once a week to build and enhance their number sense.

Parents, students, and teachers enjoyed an evening building relationships and math concepts. They found simple ways to work with students at home to help build the cognitive strategies needed to be successful in math at school.