23 February 2013

Tenths and Hundredths and Pony Beads

So what do pony beads have to do with tenths and hundredths. Read on and you will find out.

In Grade 4K we've been learning about fractions. Over the years I've discovered that either they get it or they don't. Unfortunately, we use fractions every day, so kids do really need to get it. Over the last couple of weeks we've done a fair bit of work with ordinary fractions, and putting them on a number line, and comparing them. After Friday's test I know we need to do a bit more work on equivalent fractions, but this week, we are working on linking common fractions and decimals.

This week we've been working on tenths and on Thursday we started on hundredths. The first two days went OK, using number lines and linking common fractions with decimal fractions (i.e. 1/10 = 0.1 and 3/10 = 0.3 etc.). Then we started working on hundredths. They seemed to do OK with the lesson on Thursday, and everyone was able to complete the workbook activity, which had them colouring tenths and hundredths on a grid and then writing the fraction in hundredths.

So Friday morning before I went onto the new content, I asked them to tell what we'd be learning about. Responses were vague. Eventually I got that we'd been learning about tenths and hundredths, but to get the relationship between the two was almost impossible. So it was time to get out my new teaching aid.

Kids love hands on things, and these strings of pony beads are great for helping kids understand tenths and hundredths.

There are ten beads of one colour in a set, and ten sets of beads on a string, making 100 beads. They can be really useful for students in lower grades who are beginning to learn what 100 is, and they are great for 4th graders struggling to understand how tenths and hundredths fit together. I'd already modelled the concept using a square divided into 100 smaller squares, and the kids had done some work with that, but getting these out (and everyone got to "play" with their own), really helped them see. Each single bead was one hundredth of the whole string, and ten hundredth beads went together to make one tenth!

We'll see how much they remember on Monday!

P.S. A big thank you to Mary Kluck and Lesley Kimber for getting me the supplies to create these great teaching aids, and to Janet Singer for giving me a sample and showing me some ways to use them.

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