Math Background

Geometry and Fractions: When Students Ask

  • Why do I need to learn about plane and solid shapes?
    Explain to children that the world around them is full of plane and solid shapes. Point out that in order to tell others about the things they use or see every day, they need to know and be able to use the names of shapes correctly. Help them understand that knowing how to identify shapes can often make it easier to describe something to others.
  • How can I remember the names of the parts of solid shapes?
    Suggest that children think of something like the edge of a desk or the edge of a step to help them remember that the place where two surfaces meet is called an edge. Then suggest that they remember that any part of a solid shape that is flat or can be stacked is called a face.
  • How can I remember what a line of symmetry is?
    Tell children that every time they think of something that is folded into two matching halves (a piece of paper, a shirt, a pair of pants), they can think about the folds as lines of symmetry.
  • Why should I learn about fractions?
    Explain to children that people use fractions every day. In order to know how to measure things like recipe ingredients; to divide cakes, or pies, or other foods equally and share them; and to compare and describe parts of wholes, they must be able to use fractions.
  • How can I learn to write fractions?
    Suggest that children memorize a sentence such as the following: “Write the total number of parts under the line and the number of named or shaded parts above the line.” Have children repeat this sentence to themselves at least five times each day until they remember it perfectly. Children might also use a shorter memory device such as “Total parts = bottom; shaded parts = top.”

Houghton Mifflin Math Grade 2