be part of the equation

periodic table of math skills

Setting aside curricula for a moment, there are some basic skills everyone agrees kids should have before graduating elementary school, to prepare for real life. Check out our Periodic Table of Math Skills below – the hydrogen and oxygen of the nimble working brain. Then see below how each “element” propels real life!

Row 1

Know your numbers: Press the right elevator button
Know your shapes: Ski down the right slope!

Row 2

Counting on: Add another party guest
Counting down: Arrive on time; Make change
Rotate shapes mentally: Stack objects; Tile a floor
Categorize shapes: Load the dishwasher efficiently

Row 3

Add numbers: Count calories; Know when you’ll get your restaurant table
Subtract numbers: Know when supplies will run out
Know math facts cold: Make all harder math easier
Understand the equal sign: Prepare for all problem-solving
Read an analog clock: Know the time on the world’s clock faces
Group common objects: Lay groundwork for statistics
Find the perimeter of a rectangle: Understand heating/cooling efficiency
Measure with a ruler: Center pictures on a wall; Buy the right size clothes

Row 4

Multiply numbers: Is the annual subscription better than monthly?
Work with negative numbers: Calculate debt; Work with subzero temps
Understand prime numbers: Strengthen your mental math
Understand zeroes and place value: Gut-check politicians’ budget claims
Work with money: Buy and sell
Make a bar or line graph: Understand data in the news
Find the area of a rectangle: Gut-check a realtor listing; Buy the right size rug
Measure angles: Throw a ball the farthest; Set the wing flaps on a plane

Row 5

Divide numbers: Share equally; Buy enough packs of cups and plates
Use parentheses: Understand economies of scale
+ – x ÷ with fractions: Make 1 1/2 times the recipe
+ – x ÷ with decimals: Measure blood sugar, fevers, earthquakes; Understand gas prices
+ – x ÷ with percents: Will driving 5 mph faster make a difference?
Set up a Venn diagram: Know when to code AND vs. OR in a program
Find the volume of a box: Buy the right air conditioner; Fill a pool or sandbox
Use compass directions: Exit the NYC subway with confidence

Row 6

Work with exponents: Understand how diseases spread
Solve multistep word problems: Know which line at the store will go fastest
Find the average of a set: Set a monthly budget; Track climate change
Estimate: Think on your feet. Don’t be math roadkill.
Recognize patterns: Spot errors on your utility bill or credit card
Calculate chance: Know whether a warranty is a rip-off
Know units of measure: Understand your drug prescription; Know your carbon footprint
Plot coordinate points: Design items to 3D-print; Paint football field lines; Meet up at an intersection