__Project #1: Number Fans__

I use number fans from Kindergarten through Grade 8. I use the number fans for students to show me the answer when I give them mental math questions. I include two of each digit (0-9) so that double digit numbers can be shown. At the back of the fan I usually include a blank strip because sure enough, at least four children will lose a digit (a numeral digit, not a finger lol) and it's easier to just write the missing digit on a blank strip than to find the correct colour cardstock, then cut and add it to an existing fan. Trust me on this. For middle years students, I also include a decimal and sometimes a minus sign, to indicate negative numbers. Here's how to make a number fan:

1. Photocopy a pattern onto coloured cardstock. Copy paper is too flimsy. There are many patterns available online. Here is one from Kindergarten Lifestyle: Number Fan. Make sure you have two of each digit for each student.

2. The most tedious part of this project - cut out all of the cards and punch a small hole near the bottom.

3. Arrange the digits in the following order: 0, 0, 1, 1, 2, 2... Attach the strips together with a paper fastener.

To use the fans, I ask the students a mental math question. They must silently figure out the answer in their head, and then show me the answer with their fans. I write down all of the answers that I see, and then call on a student to explain their answer to me. Then we discuss the other answers that I saw and discuss why that answer might have been given. In other words, think about others' thinking. What was done wrong? Why do you think that person did that?

__Project #2: Number Bracelets__

I use number bracelets with Kindergarten and Grade 1 students. I introduce the bracelets with 5 beads, and then 10. To make one:

1. Cut about 5 cm from a pipe cleaner (chenille stem).

2. String beads of the same colour onto the pipe cleaner.

3. Shape the pipe cleaner into a circle and wrap the ends together, forming a bracelet. It doesn't matter if the bracelets don't fit your students' wrists, as they don't wear them.

4. Fold a mailing label over the twisted ends so that little fingers don't take them apart, and won't poke themselves.

5. Write the number of beads on each side of the label.

That's it! Easy peasy. In Kindergarten, I would make a bracelet for each student, starting with 5 beads. Ask how many beads are on the bracelet. How many are on each side? Can you move the beads around to change the number of beads on each side? Discuss, discuss, discuss! Once the students have a good grasp of all the ways to make 5 (that part-part-whole understanding is soooo important, so don't rush!), move on to the 10 bead bracelets. In Grade 1, students can record all the ways to make each number. If you are using Math Work Stations, this is a great activity, and you won't need one for each student, although you could add number bracelets for each number up to 10. You could also make cards of the form: 4 + __ = 10. Donna Boucher, that wonderful math coach from Math Coach's Corner has a whole unit related to number bracelets that I'm sure you would enjoy. You can find it here: Developing Fluency with Number Bracelets.

__Project #3: Rekenrek__

Many people relate a rekenrek to the abacus from school days of long ago. They are similar, and rekenreks can be purchased in many different sizes. The size I prefer to use is two bars of 10. They vary in price, but are usually around $5 each. Here's one I found online from Canadian Education Warehouse. The purchased ones are very durable, of course, but if money is an issue (and in education, when isn't money an issue?) here's one way to make your own:

1. Cut from craft foam or heavy plastic (I used craft mats that I purchased from a Dollar store, or a plastic binder cover would work too) rectangles measuring about 3 x 5 inches.

2. Use a hole punch to make four holes, two at each end.

3. Count out 10 beads each of two colours.

4. Thread 5 beads of one colour and 5 beads of the second colour onto a pipe cleaner, or chenille stem. Do the same to a second pipe cleaner.

5. Thread the pipe cleaner through the holes of the rectangle as shown above and bend the ends over at the back. Add a drop of hot glue or sticky tape to hold the ends in place.

Rekenrek activities are the same types of learning activities you would use with two ten frames. I will be writing a blog post in the near future about using the rekenrek in the classroom, but here is a great resource you can use now from K-5 Math Teaching Resources.

__Project #4: 100 Bead String__

The last project for this post is the 100 bead string. The name is pretty self-explanatory. Basically, it's a cord about 1 metre long (a little less is fine) with 100 beads of two colours, alternating colours in groups of 10. I either make a loop at each end of the cord, or attach some sort of key ring. The cheapest I have found these online is $12, and I knew I could make them cheaper than that! I used plastic cord that I bought from Walmart, but a shoelace would work well too. I purchased two large bags of single colour pony beads there as well. Students use the bead string in a similar way that they would use a 100 Chart. To add two numbers together, simply count out the first number (using their knowledge of tens and ones) and then add the second number. Now count the beads (easy to count them in groups of 10!) to determine the sum. Subtraction is done the same way. One great strength of the 100 bead string is when you are making 100 or subtracting from 100, a very useful strategy for making change when shopping. For example, I have $1. I spend 38 cents. How much change will I get back? Many of my Grade 2 and 3 students preferred using the bead strings to the 100 Chart if they were kinaesthetic learners. I made enough for each student in my class.