24 July 2013

Look what I found today!

Even in Phnom Penh, there are a couple of places that I kind of enjoy shopping. Today I visited one, looking for a way to organise my resources for our math program, and also to possibly replace something I broke earlier in the day.  Well, I didn't find either in the first place I looked, but look what I did find.
Front view

Back view with beads flipped over.
When I spotted the first one, I thought about it for a minute and then checked the price. They were just $2 each. They only had five, so I decided to buy all their stock. I was glad I did, because a couple of them were either missing a bead or had an extra one. It was an easy process to move the beads so that I end up with four complete ones and then I also moved the columns with missing beads to the 10,000,000 and 100,000,000 places (which I may just remove anyway as we don't go past 1,000,000 in 4th grade) so even the fifth one is usable. I've got 4 tables in my classroom, so that's one per table and one to spare!

Now why am I so excited about this. Well, one of the tools that is used in our math program to help students understand larger numbers is the abacus. There's a printed version and students practice reading and writing four and five digit numbers using the abacus.

The next step from simply reading the number is telling what the number would be if a single bead is added to a particular place. Some of my students in the past have really struggled with this, especially when it comes to adding that tenth bead to a column which requires regrouping. When I spotted these little treasures, I thought, "That's just what I need for those students who need hands on practice".

Now if you look closely you'll notice there's a lot of writing on the front side. Some of it is Chinese characters (like the ones you can still see at the base of each column) and there was also a "Multiplication Table". Since I do occasionally get students who can read Chinese, and also the Multiplication Table would be distracting, I found a piece of coloured "contact" and covered it up. It was a bit fiddly, but all the loops come out and I managed to do it without losing any beads.

I'm still working out what to do with the base, but I know I've got some sticky spots somewhere that I can write the English letters on for represent each of the places that we will use. Now I'm looking forward to using them with my kids when school goes back.

Background writing covered with "contact".

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