This model was developed and used in the CSMP (Comprehensive School Mathematics Program) and remains a wonderful introduction to integers for young children. Eli is an elephant who loves peanuts. As he travels through the jungle, he picks up each and every peanut he sees and places them in his bag.
The trouble is that some of the peanuts are magic peanuts. They look the same as regular peanuts, so Eli doesn't know if he's picking up a regular or a magic peanut. The problem is that when a regular and a magic peanut get together, they disappear. Eli is always disappointed to find fewer peanuts in his bag when he stops for a snack.
Read more about Integers: Eli and the Magic Peanuts Model on Mathwire. This latest addition to the Mathwire collection includes pictorial directions for introducing Eli to young students. You may also download an Eli math mat and problem set.
NOTE: I regularly used craft foam peanuts and magic peanuts for classroom presentations of Eli and the Magic Peanuts. You can easily use the downloadable demo-size peanuts as a template or simply print several of these demo-size peanuts for student use.
See how the CSMP curriculum presented Eli and the Magic Peanuts and the simple notation they used with first graders. NOTE: You will have to scroll through the document to Lesson F114, page 4-473 for a multi-page presentation. Here you'll find the original representations and story.