UCMAS USA Banner text: Get Smart with Numbers! 5 ways to learn effective mental math skills. ucmas-usa.com

You’ve likely heard about the wonders of mental math—the ability to perform calculations effortlessly in your head. But why is it crucial? Mental math is the gateway to number sense, the skill of manipulating numbers mentally, which, in turn, leads to success in complex mathematical operations. Just like we play with words to form sentences or chords to create songs, number sense allows us to play with numbers, making math more intuitive. The beauty of mental math is that it’s not reserved for math prodigies; anyone can grasp its basics, making the journey through math and complex mathematical operations a breeze. Here are seven easy mental math tricks for mastering mental math that everyone can use.

The “9-Trick”: Unlock the Magic of 10

The abacus went through several adaptations and changes in different civilizations along its journey from ancient Mesopotamia. For instance, the Roman abacus, with its fixed beads and simpler form, was made by the Romans. The Chinese abacus also called the suanpan, on the other hand, was able to perform more complex calculations due to its flexible and intricate beads. Every society created an abacus of its style, modified to its own mathematical systems and cultural requirements. Despite these differences, the abacus remained a tool commonly used by all civilizations, allowing East and West to come together and indicating the universality of human ability in producing tools for counting and calculating.

Doubles + 1: Memorize and Conquer

Encourage memorizing doubles from 1 + 1 to 9 + 9. Once mastered, tackling “doubles plus one more” becomes second nature. For instance, 5 + 6 is just one more than 5 + 5, making mental calculations a breeze.

Multiplying a double-digit number by  11

Multiplying a two-digit number by 11 is a quick and straightforward process. Simply sum up the two digits and position the result between the original numbers.

Illustration with 54 multiplied by 11:

Step 1: Add 5 and 4, resulting in 9.

Step 2: Place 9 between 5 and 4, yielding 594.

In conclusion, the answer is 594.

Five Times a Number: The Halfway Mark

Discover a nifty trick for multiplying any number by 5. Multiply the number by 10 and take half of the result. For instance, 5 × 48 becomes 10 × 48 (480), and half of that is 240. This method applies to other multiplication facts, like 5 × 7 or 5 × 9.

Multiply in Parts: The Building Blocks

  • Break down the numbers: 

Instead of grappling with large numbers head-on, we teach children to deconstruct them into smaller, more approachable parts. For example, 3 × 74 becomes 3 × (70 + 4).

  • Multiply individually: 

This simple step unlocks the magic! By multiplying each part separately—3 × 70 and 3 × 4—children tackle seemingly daunting calculations with remarkable ease.

  • Assemble the answer: 

Once the individual parts are computed, we guide learners to effortlessly combine the results using addition. In this case, 3 × 70 (210) + 3 × 4 (12) seamlessly leads to the final answer of 222.

Incorporate these practical tips into your mental math arsenal, not just for academic success but for a more playful and intuitive approach to everyday problem-solving. Mental math isn’t just for the classroom; it’s a lifelong skill that can enhance your relationship with numbers. So, whether you’re helping your child navigate the world of mathematics or looking to boost your own mental math prowess, start playing with numbers today. It’s never too late to unlock the magic of mental math and experience the joy of effortlessly crunching numbers in your head!

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