Stacking crackers and dodging splats of goo may actually help kids learn about addition and multiplication. Sound crazy? Not to Peter Glynn, math specialist at Crane Country Day School and co-creator of the new app, Crackers and Goo, which uses engaging visual patterns (think crackers) integrated with math strategies (and flying goo!), to educate children about critical thinking and computing skills.
“I often ask new students to add 99 + 99 so that I can see how they figure out a problem,” Glynn said. “Many visually stack the numbers in their head to add, and others ask for a piece of paper, rather than taking the more efficient route of adding two groups of 100 and subtracting two.” With Crackers and Goo, however, crackers representing number tiles are used to build pattern sequences that help kids look at math differently.
“We need children to grow into adults that can critically analyze a problem and identify an efficient strategy for solving the problem."
By using pattern puzzles to highlight mental math strategies, Crackers and Goo will hopefully give kids an improved framework for considering numbers in the real world, not just in a textbook.
Inspired by the morning math class he teaches at Crane Country Day School, Glynn says he often uses patterns in games to teach students basic computing skills. This optional math course is offered at 7:30 a.m., before school officially starts, and is very well attended because it’s so much fun. Glynn realized he could add technology to his teaching techniques to reach more kids and educators and hopefully inspire them with his engaging teaching methods.
Tapping into his background as a software engineer, Glynn took many of the concepts from his early morning math meetings to develop the iPad app.
Before becoming a math specialist at Crane six years ago, Glynn led a successful, 12-year career as the head of software development at InfoGenesis in Goleta. His love for math and passion for teaching moved Glynn from the office to the classroom.
At Crane, he is the popular Lower School math specialist as well as co-chairman of the math department. When not teaching the kindergartners through fifth-graders, Glynn can be found mentoring many Lower School teachers. Glynn was also a key decision-maker, along with Upper School math teacher Doug McKenzie and second-grade teacher Karen Ohrn, in bringing Singapore math to Crane, a move that greatly improved the school’s curriculum.
Crackers and Goo has more than 6,000 games in 16 levels of math called skill steps, with increasing complexity at each step. Glynn says this provides children with enough variety and repetition for deep understanding and long-term retention of the math skills they learn.
The Crackers and Goo app is free and has already been downloaded in countries far as Korea, Pakistan and Vietnam. Glynn is not surprised that the hands-on, joyful teaching philosophy embraced at Crane resonates with others worldwide. He also hopes that his willingness to try something new, take a risk and follow his passion will inspire his students to follow their passions, whether they are math-related or not.
The app is free to download from the App store on iPad and mini-iPad or by clicking here.
Click here for more information on Crane Country Day School.
— Ann Pieramici represents Crane Country Day School.