Thursday, January 10

Place Value and Manipulatives on the Fly

We are at my parents right now while working on our house to get it listed. I *thought* I had gotten everything we needed for this weeks homeschool. Was totally wrong. So I found myself stuck yesterday with no car (we only have one car, not normally a problem) and only about 3 miles from home... which might as well have been 3 states.

Yesterday morning we wrapped up review from coming back from the holidays and in the afternoon we started on week 19 of our curriculum. For math this meant 2 & 3 digit subtraction using place value and manipulatives. We didn't have any manipulatives here. I have jars of buttons, shells and lots of other cool stuff at home we use. Not so much here. However I did find gold fish! =)

Only problem being that goldfish are not gluten free. Call me overly cautious, but I figure if he's allergic to eating gluten and breathing gluten (like at a bakery) then touching it probably isn't a great idea. So we put ten goldfish in snack bags, 20 times. Then we put ten of the snack bags in a freezer bag. Plus 10 goldfish free of bags (which I handled). We had a 100 unit bag, some 10 unit bags and some single units.

I must say it worked out pretty well. Tristian really got a kick out of it and I saw him have an 'A-HA!' moment when we opened the hundred unit bag to break it up while subtracting 48 from 113.
I could see the understanding click together. I know he knew already intellectually that 100 is ten groups of ten and 100 ones, that tens are ten ones and etc... but I think seeing the bags of goldfish break down that way took it from an intellectual understanding to a working knowledge. Just a different level of understanding.

Anyways, I thought it was neat how just a slightly different approach or different materials was able to trigger that. We have used manipulatives in a similar way many times before, but never in baggies. Normally we just group them up and move the groups and then break down or regroup the groups as needed for whatever we are doing. I'm sure he would have had that 'A-HA!' moment eventually, but I wonder if it would have been yesterday during the same activity if we'd been using baggie free shells or buttons or cubes instead of the goldfish in baggies?

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