By Jill Simeone & Ginny Simeone -
I love asking my mom (the first grade teacher) about teaching math to little kids because she knows just how to distill number concepts (that we adults tend to complicate) into simple little lessons for the young learner.
The other day, she asked if I had introduced the concept of odd and even numbers to my kids. I explained that I had tried, but that I felt like I muddled it up.
"Keep it simple", she advised. "Even has a partner, odd doesn't."
Start off writing the numbers 2,3 and 4 on a card. Give your child buttons or M&Ms or some other uniform item, and model sorting them in pairs under each number.
Explain: "Even numbers always have a partner." "Two has a partner so it is even." "Does 4 have a partner? Yes, so it is even."
"Numbers without partners are odd. Does 3 have a partner? No, so it is odd."
From there, let your child re-do the same exercise with the same numbers and get a feel for the concept, repeating it. "Even has a partner." If she masters 2-4, you can try adding more numbers. Or maybe just hug your partner, call it even, and wait for next time.