Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Math center

I've been wanting to incorporate some "centers" into our day.  A place to do something fun and hands-on.  I thought it would be a fun break for the kids and also motivate me to use some of the things I've purchased and not gotten around to using.

We had a FIAR lesson last week on balance.  I thought this would be the perfect time to get out the balance scale we have.  I bought it along with a box full of math manipulatives at a consignment sale.  I haven't been good about figuring out how to use them though.

I wasn't feeling creative or inspired by this scale.  That may be obvious since I've owned it for several years.  LOL  I asked some friends on the FIAR board for ideas on how to use the scale.  Here were some of the suggestions.

*Just free play - figuring out the scale and how to balance things.  We did this the first day and they enjoyed it.  I had a bag of unifix cubes and counting bears (both were also in the math box I bought) for them to use.  I also added in some assorted other things - paper clips, small bear, beads, binder clip, etc.

*Compare the weights of items using a standard. For instance, how many centimeter cubes does an eraser weigh? How many paperclips equal the weight of a crayon, many paperclips equal a pair of scissors? How many grapes equal a banana?

* Compare weights. Looking at the objects, which do you *think* will be heavier… put them both on the balance and see if you were correct.

*Illustrate density by using a large marshmallow vs a stack of quarters for instance. They're the same "size" but clearly don't weigh the same! 

*Measure 1/2 cup (or whatever the scale would hold) of various items and compare the weight vs volume

*Play old-time store and weigh out various things and have the kids pay w "gold" (maybe spray paint some beans or rice?) Or make your own "shekels" type of thing and weigh the "coins" for payment

*Illustrate the not so nice practice of putting the thumb on the scale or "weighted" measures that are weighted against the consumer, but for the vendor.

*Addition problems.  This fun to do with the unifix cubes.  I will probably make up a sheet for them to figure out the problems and then record the answers.  You can attach the unifix cubes together.  I thought I'd put them in groups of 1, 2, 3, 4, etc already attached.  They would then work the problem.

2+3 = _____

You would then put the 2 set and the 3 set on one side of the scale.  Then add cubes to the other side to figure out the total. 

Well, this very simple center has been a big hit.  It was even fun in ways that I hadn't anticipated.  Yesterday afternoon, the boys were playing happily in our sunroom (where I'd set up the center).  At one point, my oldest tells me that I should go look.  Indeed, my boys have made the math manipulatives toys.

My youngest boy (4) had made his own creation.

What really made me laugh though was my boy creations.  Only a boy would turn unifix cubes ... into a cannon.  And the bears were sorted by colors ... into an army.

I had to laugh.  I hope you got a chuckle out of it too.