Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Developing Number Sense

Students in Everyday Math classes play a game called Name That NumberMake It Count is a very similar online game.  Students are dealt number cards, given operations and a target number.  The students must use only those cards (all or some) and the given operations to produce the target number.  They click on Submit to check their solution and get immediate feedback.  If the student is stumped by a particular combination of cards, they may click on See Answer to view a possible solution

These games provide practice of basic factsThe real beauty is that students rehearse many different options in the search for one successful combination, developing number sense.  There are often several possible solutions, so students believe they will be successful, motivating them to search for a solution when one is not initially evident.

After a class presentation of the game, students often benefit from playing as pairs, generating mathematical discussion and debate in the search for a solution.  This online game might also be added to Parent Resources as students may play for free at home.

The Make the Number template may be downloaded and used in class as a warm-up or Do Now! activity.  For renewable use, students insert the template into a clear sheet protector and use dry erase markers to write in the target number and the number cards.  They use the white space to write down and check possible solutions.

NOTE:  Teachers may opt to make an overhead of this template so that students are able to record different solutions they find.  If the overhead is also inserted into a sheet protector, students may use dry erase markers to record their solutions.  The sheet protector is easy to clean and the overhead may be kept in a teacher binder for easy retrieval as needed.

Extension:  The Contig game is a natural extension of this activity and it develops number sense as students search for the best possible solution that will win them the most points.  Students should know multiplication and division facts, but older students are easily challenged by this game.  Try it!

In the Contig Game students toss three dice.   They use those three numbers and any operations to form a number on the game mat.   Players earn an extra point for each covered number the new number touches, so students quickly learn to search for the best move that will yield the maximum possible points.   The instructional benefit of the game is that students try many different combinations in search of that best move. 

Contig Jr. is designed to provide that same format for younger students who need to develop mastery of addition and subtraction facts. 

  • Introduce these games to students and provide students time for supervised play.  
  • Make the games available in the math center for use during center time or indoor recess or game day. 
  • Insert the game mats into clear sheet protectors and use dry erase markers for renewable play. 
  • Home Connection:  Send a copy of the game mat home for students to teach parents and play at home for additional practice.

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