Friday, May 4, 2012

Exploration with the Number Balance

I am obsessed with math manipulatives because they provide such a good way to really understand math concept and are so much fun for kids (and..um..Mommy) to play with.  I purchased this Number Balance a while ago, and decided that now that the girls are starting to understand addition, I could take it out...

I started out by asking "What's 2+1?".  "Three!" they both shouted.  Then I asked L to put the hanging weights on 1 and 2, and E to put a weight on 3 on the other side.   "Wow - look!  The scale is balanced - so 1+2 on this side is equal to 3!".  They gave me the 'Mommy's acting too enthusiastic' look, and started putting on more hanging weights.  I remembered that I can't just bring out a new toy and expect them to use it to do math problems, so we spent the rest of the time doing some free exploration.

The girls had to use fine motor skills to place the hanging weights on the pegs, and then logic skills (and trial and error) to get the two sides to balance (and keep the hanging weights from falling off).  It actually became a really fun game, where E would either add or remove weights on one side and L would add or remove the weights on the other side and they'd try to get the scale to balance.  Whenever the scale balanced (mostly by random chance rather than addition skills), the girls watched excitedly and clapped.   Mostly I let the girls explore, but sometimes I would comment about which side was heavier, and they got the concept and started using the same words to describe what they were doing.  One time L put weights on 1 and 4 and E put weights on 2 and 3 and I showed them on my fingers that they both equal five and made a big deal about what they had discovered.  E's entire face lit up.  That doesn't mean she totally understood what I was trying to explain, but she was very proud of her 'discovery'.

This reminded me of how fun it is to explore math manipulatives even if the kids are not quite ready for using them the 'correct' way.

1 comment:

1. I am the same way about manipulatives. I have to remind myself that my boys don't need every single item on the market, LOL. This one looks like a lot of fun!