Teach students to use the math mat to solve simple addition problems that add to a sum of 10 or less (for example, 4 + 4 = __ marshmallows).
Now introduce a licorice stick for counting numbers or sums greater than 10. Introduce the idea that a licorice stick is the same value as ten marshmallows; ten marshmallows could be "traded" for one licorice stick. Practice counting and showing a licorice-marshmallow representation for numbers greater than 10. For example, a licorice stick and four marshmallows represents the number 14.
Next, challenge students to use their math mats to solve a simple addition problem that results in a sum of 10 or greater: for example, 6 marshmallows + 5 marshmallows = __ marshmallows. They will quickly discover they do not have enough marshmallows to work the problem. But they can "trade" ten marshmallows for a licorice stick. The licorice sticks will always appear in the second column (the tens column) on their math charts. Practice adding numbers that result in a sum greater than 10 but less than 99.
Eventually, as students learn to add to numbers greater than 99, introduce a pretzel or a carrot stick to represent ten licorice sticks.
End the lesson by enjoying a tasty, low-fat snack.
AssessmentUse tens and ones plastic math blocks to check transferability of students' place value skills from food to real math manipulatives.
Lisa Miller, Riverside Elementary School, Toledo, Ohio
Originally published 01/18/2002
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