Math Homework 101: Name-Collection Boxes

Has your child ever brought home homework with one of these name-collection boxes? Did you break out in a sweat thinking “I’ve never seen one of these before? How on earth am I going to help with this?”
No? That was just me?
My daughter brought home a few of these before I actually figured out what it was. Luckily, she knew what she was doing and didn’t need my help. Whew! In fact, it took my then 6-year-old to explain it to me before I figured it out. Now it’s time for me to pass on my knowledge to you.
I don’t know how widespread these name-collection boxes are. They’re part of the Everyday Math Curriculum and I’ve seen them come up in 1st grade and 2nd grade. I’m not entirely sure if other curriculums use it. If they don’t, I think they should! Once I started looking at these, I realized a few things.
Number 1: I like these because they add a bit of creativity to math. It’s like a mini brainstorming session.
Number 2: It’s a great illustration of the many, many ways you can use math to describe a number.
Number 3: It’s kind of fun.
Let’s get started. I snapped a picture of one of the name-collection boxes I found in my daughter’s 1st Grade Everyday Math workbook. Often the question asked is “Write other names for ___.” The number in question is always written in the small square in the upper corner. You may also see another version where it asked the student to cross out the names that don’t belong in the ___ – box. The box will be filled out completely and your child has to cross out all the things that don’t equal the number in the box.
The concept is really easy once you get the hang of it.
So, what do you include in a name-collection box? The only wrong answer is something that does not equal the number in the corner. In the example above, I used tally marks, addition problems, subtraction problems, drew a base 10 block, and wrote the number word. Other options are drawing money, drawing a domino, or writing an addition problem with more than 2 numbers. As your child learns more, there will be more options to put in the box. You could even use multiplication and division problems if your child has reached that point!
How can you have fun with this at home? Take it outside and draw a name-collection box on the driveway. Make a 3-D name-collection box in a shoe box. Get out the colored markers and decorate the box and write all your answers in multiple colors!
I created a simple, printable name-collection box you can use at home. Print it out and work through one of these together with your child. That way you can gain an understanding together. Your child will feel more successful and you will gain confidence with their math homework.
My daughter wrote down some examples for you for the number 12. I just noticed that she got the tally marks wrong. Oops! Luckily, I know she has a good understanding of tally marks so I’ll just chalk that one up to a “in a hurry” mistake.
If you’d like to do more activities related to the name-collection box, JDaniel4’s Mom has a great post with fall-themed Exploring a Number printable worksheets. It’s a nice break down which can help guide a child that’s having troubles understanding the name-collection box.
Math Geek Mama took this idea and added a Thanksgiving twist. Check out her Build a Turkey Number Sense Activity. She’s even got free printables to help you out.



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Terri is a writer and mom of two elementary-aged girls. She has a passion for learning and is always looking for ways to make learning fun. You can find her at Better Than Homework where she shares fun learning activities or Creative Family Fun where she shares art, craft, and family fun ideas.

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