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Nursery students use pirate math to prepare for benchmarks

By Carolina Astrain
Nov. 23, 2013 at 5:23 a.m.
Updated Nov. 24, 2013 at 5:24 a.m.

Tyler Wilson is outfitted with an eye patch and pirate's hat to get into the role of a pirate during the Math Matters event at Nursery Elementary. Students aboard the boat used treasure coins, jewels and secret maps to learn about math.

Make Learning FUN

Looking for ways to make learning fun for your students? Here are some ways you can turn number crunching and reading into a high-seas adventure from

• Math facts plank walking: Turn your couch into a pirate ship and a bench into the plank. Create story lines where for every incorrect math fact answer, your child takes another walk down the plank.

• Sight word island hopping: Place pillows with sight words taped onto them around the floor, close enough that your child can safely hop from one to another. Hold up a sight word card. Your child has to get from her current spot to the sight word in three hops or less, reading the names of the pillows she lands on along the way. If he or she gets the word wrong, the child gets "eaten by the sharks," which could be a tickle-fest with you or another playful "punishment." Have them problem solve different ways to hop before they go, emphasizing previewing and logic skills along with literacy.

• Pirate reading: Write out simple sentences with phonetic and/or sight words on strips of paper. Have your child pull a cut-up strip out of a pirate hat and read it aloud in her best pirate voice. Repeat back what you heard them say in plain English.


Damian Lira peered over at the gold coins spread across the gray floor.

A few paces away, Tyler Wilson lined a baby's diaper with copper-tinted marble pebbles.

A pink, plastic eye patch covered Rihanna Palette's eye.

Nursery Elementary School students were sharpening their math skills in preparation for their state test benchmarks during Math Matters, an annual event dedicated to making math fun.

This year's event incorporated pirate-themed exercises, like counting coins and reading treasure maps to hone math skills.

In the springtime, the school holds a similar event dedicated to enhancing reading skills - Reading Rocks, said Suzanne Bell, Nursery principal and Nursery school district superintendent.

"It's something that we do to help kids realize that they can have fun with math if they want to," she said. "It's always a lot of fun, and we have parents who come in and help us with the activities."

It was Halloween, so the kids were already in a creative spirit, Bell said.

Dolores Lira, Damian's mother, thought the event was helpful, she said.

"My son really enjoyed it," the 27-year-old said. "He's been pretty good with math. ... I guess he got that from my side."



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