Good 1st grade math activities help kids involve their whole brains in figuring things out. The tactile aspect of hands-on learning can supply the "missing link" in helping kids understand a new concept.

These tips will help you turn a fun activity into a powerful learning experience.

1. Be clear on what you want to teach. What is it that your child needs to learn next?
2. Find a good math activity that focuses on that skill. These targeted 1st grade math activities are a great place to start.
3. Do the activity by yourself first. Experience what it will be like for your child. This is one of the most important things you will do as you prepare to lead a math activity.
4. Think about potential problems. Put yourself in first grade shoes. What parts might be difficult? Could the materials make kids want to do something else with them? What might make this activity more fun? Think how to address problems before they happen.
5. Be prepared. Know how to play and get all your materials together before you do the activity with kids. If you are unsure or scrambling to get things together, the kids will be scattered too. When you are organized, they can learn more easily.

1. Get excited about your activity. This can't be overemphasized. Enthusiasm opens kids' minds for learning. Show how much you love this great new activity, and first graders will be falling all over each other to do it with you.
2. You do it, they watch. Don't explain first; just jump right in and show them. You play, and they watch you. Have a great time with it, then ask, "Want to play?"
3. Play, with explanations. This time, as you play with them, keep a running commentary of what to do next, what is happening. Tell them just what they need to know as they need to know it. (Otherwise you will just repeat yourself. Over. And over. Again.)
4. Ask questions. "How many are left over? Now how much do you have? I wonder what would happen if...? How can you figure that out? Why did that happen? What would that look like written down? What should you do next? What did you discover?"
5. Make thoughtful comments. "I think you made a pattern... Oh look, you added an odd plus an odd and got an even number... Hey, all the numbers in the ones place are the same... I bet we could find more ways to make five..."

Be focused, clear, enthusiastic, and curious. And above all, do try your hand at 1st grade math activities. You and your kids will be glad you did.