Monday, 20 August 2012

I just build towers with them!

All our Apps come from a NEED whether this be a past colleague or a random email from a user. Mainly, they come from my tutoring efforts and the NEED to reach into a little person's brain and tap into where they are at... because it isn't happening at school or with other methods.

So... here's the story behind Little Monkey Apps Place Value MAB.

I’ve been tutoring my neice Miss Ten again and we’ve been working on number facts to ten, twenty. She gets the tens frame, she gets that if she knows 5+5 is ten then 15+5 is 20. So to mix things up a little we played a game called double plus one. So 5+6 is like 5+5+1. Having her talk about her thinking is REALLY helping her to become cognizant of what it is she is actually doing. 

At the end of the session though, she appealed to me, “But Aunty Leasha all of this doesn’t help me when I have to do addition with regrouping!” Ah, I thought, its time to transfer this knowledge to something that is undertaught in our classrooms today…. Mathematical Manipulatives! Yes! Hands on stuff. “Do you use MAB at school?” I asked her. She rolled her eyes and replied, “I just build towers with them!”

I remember as a kid throwing the ones (minis, units) across the table at one of my peers. I remember some kid putting ones up his nose and two tens (longs) in his mouth like fangs. As a teacher, I was always finding ones in inconspicuous places and tripping over them even after I thought they’d been well packed away…vacuum cleaners DO NOT pick them up! 

Not having any Multibase Arithmetic Blocks at home (and no access to school supplies since being on Leave with Little Angel) I pulled out a pack of craft icypole sticks, rubber bands and a shoe box and made her make me bundles of ten, then advance to 36, 29, 45, 92, 105. We played games with dice, and had races to make the number rolled. We rolled dice again, made the number with sticks and then… added them together… but what happens, I asked her with the bundles and sticks. You’ve got 47 and 29? Oh my goodness…. Regrouping!!!!  

On a large place value mat (laminated A3 placemat) we wrote HTU (hundreds tens and units) and put the bundles and sticks in the right place. We wrote the problem out on the mat and she saw that when written out vertically on the place value mat the problem was, “like at school!”  We then wrote the problems out first, then used the sticks and bundles to solve the problem. 

I was hoping to have her transfer her knowledge of doubles and near doubles to this situation and to use bundles of pencils and glue beans on sticks in sessions following. 

Creating an MAB App was on my mind to create because I had no access to the real equipment and couldn’t afford to buy it for tutoring one child. 
By this time, Little Angel was awake. I grabbed the playdough to keep her amused, but it was clear that she wanted the icypole sticks to stick into the playdough. Looking at Miss Ten and Little Angel I asked them both, “Want to build a tower?”

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