What is Touch Point Math; How Do Touch Points Work?

Posted by Krystie Yeo on

Are you a teacher or a homeschooling parent? Is your student struggling with math in grade school and you’re not sure what to do next? Developed in 1975 by an elementary school teacher named Janet Bullock, TouchMath was created to provide a new way for struggling students and students with special needs to learn math. 

She found that TouchMath was a great way to build students’ confidence and slowly transition them from concrete to symbolic learning in a way that made sense. 

Read on to learn everything you need to know about touch points math and whether this would help your student move forward with their math education! 

What is TouchMath? 

TouchMath is also known as the Alphabet of Mathematics. Meant for grades K-3, it’s a hands-on approach to math that’s great for children who are struggling with math and are more visual, tactile, and auditory learners. 

By combining tactile (touch) activities with tech-based ones, children receive a more holistic, whole-brain experience of math that helps them learn faster. 

What are TouchPoints? 

TouchPoints are the key to TouchMath. Numerals 1 through 9 have points illustrated on each number. Numerals 1 through 5 have single TouchPoints on each digit that can be touched and counted individually. Numerals 6 through 9 have double TouchPoints–kids need to count each TouchPoint twice. 

These simple points allow children to associate numbers with real values. For instance, when a child is still learning math, the number five may seem like a few lines and curves on a page. By adding five points onto the number, students can see and feel firsthand that it represents “five.” 

How Do You Use TouchPoints? 

For TouchPoints to work and make sense to the student, they’ll need to touch each point and count out loud in the correct pattern. For instance, numbers one through five all have coinciding TouchPoints that need to be touched in the right order and counted out loud.

Three has TouchPoints at the top, middle, and bottom of the numeral. The student would touch them in that order and count, “One, two, three.” 

Five has TouchPoints in sequential order based on how you would write it. The student touches each point and counts one through five. 

Numbers six through nine are different–each point counts as two. For instance, the number six has three points at the top, middle, and bottom. The student would touch each point and count each one as two. 

For odd numbers such as seven, one TouchPoint would count as one while the other three would count as two. 

This is great because students don’t have to waste time counting multiple points. Even better, they’ll eventually learn how to skip count: “Two, four, six.” 

TouchMath Programs

Once your students begin to understand what each number represents, you’re able to teach them a wide variety of math concepts, such as: 

  • Counting and Backward Counting
  • Addition and Subtraction
  • Geometry
  • Algebra
  • Fractions 
  • Money
  • Time
  • Measurement
  • Graphing/Data
  • Multiplication
  • Decimals
  • Percents

TouchMath Tips

When you first begin teaching TouchMath, here are a few tips to get you started or consider for the future during your instruction: 

Have a Plan

Remember that you don’t want your students to be reliant on the points for the rest of their lives. While you’re teaching TouchMath, be sure to have an overall plan in place that allows you to slowly fade the points so that your students are not so reliant on them. 

The goal is to eventually have them understand numerical values, add, subtract, and more without the visual aid of the points! 

Teaching Addition

The easiest way to start with addition is beginning with numerals one through five. If the student is adding five plus two, they would start with the highest number. They would touch the number five and say “five.” Then, they would touch the first point on number two and say, “six.” Last, they would touch the next point and say, “seven.”

You can see how eventually they would understand that the number two adds two to a number without needing to count each point. 

Generalization

Remember that for students for special needs, you’ll also want to continue focusing on generalization. Generalization allows students to use the skills they learn across multiple environments and not just the specific worksheets and tasks they’re used to. 

Be sure to teach in different environments and settings. Use a variety of different worksheets and materials. Pay attention to teaching moments during everyday life, such as clocks on the wall or numbers you see on street signs or buildings. 

By recognizing these numbers out of the classroom and remembering the concepts they learned through TouchMath, your students will continue to learn and grow. 

Learning Through Touch Point Math

No one learns the same way or at the same pace, and this can be hard for students who find themselves hung up on math concepts that they don’t understand. Special needs students also need other ways to interact with their environment and the concept they’re learning in order to move forward at their own pace. 

TouchMath is a colorful and engaging way to help students with special needs, students who find math gives them anxiety or students who are better visual learners or need to learn by “doing.” Through tactile and visual methods, students are able to more easily grasp complex math concepts. 

Ready to start meeting the unique needs of your special needs student? Explore our collection of special needs education materials! 

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