Why should you spend your hard-earned pesos on this product?
a) you loved the cover and thought, “oh, what could be inside?”
b) you enjoy purchasing products from red diaper babies (you’ll have to Google that one)
d) you thought this activity seemed really cool and you want to try it out, and how much could you loose for 5 smackers?
Here’s the idea: there is no point in your students “practicing” addition facts (or any other factual information, for that matter) if they’re going to do it mindlessly. Good practice requires thinking, did you hear me, THINKING! A card with “7 + 6 = ?” printed on it does not provoke a lot of thinking, even if you put a cute bunny or bird on it. For one thing, it does not promote a specific strategy, so for all you know, the 2nd grader who is using the flash card is still “counting all” using his/her fingers. What’s the point of counting on your fingers if you’re trying to get to the next level, say “counting on,” or, dare we say it, recognizing it 7 + 6 as a “near double.”
This partner game is not about helping children practice specific addition strategies: in fact, if they don’t have any strategies, you should go back and work on those first. What this game is about is helping children think about addition and its inverse, subtraction. By focusing on placing a tile on a specific space on the board, students have to work through different addition facts. For example, if the student needs to place a 13 tile on the board, and it has to be placed in the 7 column in order to “touch” the side of another tile, then the student will say “hmmm, 7 + ? = 13.” As you can see, this is the “missing addend” method to solve a subtraction problem, which also promotes understanding of subtraction as a “part-whole” concept.
I’ve created 7 different versions of this game: your best bet would be to print up copies on colored card stock, separating each version by color, so that if two groups mix up their tiles, it will be easy to sort them out and put them back in their envelopes which go with the game. You might also want to mark them the tiles on the back with a letter so that if a tile ends up with another set of the same version, you can put it back.
I love this activity, and I use it with my students whenever they have a spare moment, either as part of morning work, or for practice when they have finished their regular work. It’s also a fun thing to send for homework; believe me, your kids will enjoy practicing addition and subtraction a lot more when they’re playing a game with their loved ones, rather than doing one of those cruddy worksheets that some teachers (not you) download from those chumpy math websites.
I’ve also included a blank board for you and your students to use; I think it would be really interesting to see what versions of this game they would come up with on their own. If you or your students make a good one, go ahead and send it over to me and I’ll mark it up into a polished version; not only will I send it back to you, but I’ll also give you props!