Teaching with Monkeys
One of my favourite ways to teach combinations of five begins with the story, Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed. After reading the story, initially exploring rhymes, patterns, and chants, I like to use it as a tool for teaching math facts to five.
As I go through the story again (generally over the span of a few days), I take a moment after each verse to introduce a math fact or draw a composition of the monkeys in relation to the bed (i.e., 5 monkeys on the bed and 0 on the ground; 5 + 0 = 5). By the end of the story, we cover all the combinations of five. While we review the math facts, I draw their attention to the pattern that emerges (i.e., when the number of monkeys on the bed decreases the number of monkeys on the ground increases). For the rest of the week, I invite 5 different students each day to come up and re-enact the poem while we sing to it. We continue to review the math facts as we go along.
As an extension, and one that students really enjoy, I have students re-enact the story/song using stick puppets. They begin by colouring and cutting out a template of the bed and the 5 monkeys. Then they glue a popsicle stick to the back of each monkey and take turns re-enacting the story/song to a partner. By the end of the week, the stick puppets get sent home with a letter to parents.
A great way to gage students’ understanding of the concept and evaluate their learning is to have them repeat this activity with bingo dabbers (one colour representing the monkeys on the bed, and another representing the ones on the ground). Each student gets 6 bed templates and uses two colour dabbers to show the various combinations the monkeys could be arranged (i.e., 3 dabs on the bed, 2 on the ground).
I also made a card game to help students practice their facts to five and sharpen their memory skills while they're at it (works like a concentration game but in this game both cards must add up to five).
The Teaching with Monkeys package includes: Poem, Bed and Monkey Puppet templates, Evaluation sheets, Concentration game with instruction cards.
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