You have seen pictures and descriptions of addends towers and other games at Crewton Ramone's House of Math since pretty much day one, but here it is on video for the first time. This is a staple of Mortensen Math. You HAVE to set the rules for the lesson: they have to build the levels with addends not just four 7's or whatever.
These two little girls are a ton of fun and a bit of a challenge when it comes to behavior management. This was part of a lesson that engaged them the whole hour. At the end of it we did algebra but we barely got started and it was time to go...it felt like they were there for 5 or 10 minutes. Thus proving my own axiom to myself: "make it fun."
With these two I just have to get a little more creative and keep things moving so te have little or no time to quarrel with each other...and certainly no time to get bored. I fully understand in a classroom situation you can't make it exciting every single minute, that would be exhausting for everybody; however, on the other hand some classrooms are so boring the kids get diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, they're not attention deficient, they bored to tears. Solution: drugs.
I have a different solution. Engage the student with MRE's. Math Rich Environments. Make sure those MRE's are activity rich too. Book work is boring. Necessary, but boring for little kids. As they get older you will be moving to symbols anyway but at the younger ages they need hands on activities. Think of it the same way you think of teaching reading. In the beginning the books have a lot more pictures than words and gradually move to words, but by 7 there is still lots more page devoted to pictures than to words.
Same for math...remember start in the concrete, then move to pictures and lastly to symbols. If you do it right the symbols might even be a reward and something they look forward to...drawing with pens on the board is fun, and along with the pictures move them to making symbols...
And as always don't just use these powerful tools to teach addition and place value. You can use them to teach counting through calculus...and one day you will see that as I use algebra to teach counting you can use calculus to teach counting and multiplication too...so literally teach counting through calculus.
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