Playing with base ten blocks. You can't help but make learning fun. Again building stuff over and over again because they want to shoot it down is more fun than worksheets. It is important to use two hands for optimum whole brain sensory input. When the student uses both hands more learning takes place easier, it's that simple.

Using base ten blocks to get addends mastered make learning math almost effortless. First they learn their addends which helps them add two numbers which is basic addition; which helps them add series of numbers which helps them learn to multiply which makes math easy because it allows the student to count quickly. Math is a whole lot easier when you can multiply because it allows you to divide and discover patterns and a whole lot more. Problem solving and fractions are much more difficult when the student can't do simple computation. Addends are the basic building block. Gets the kids off their fingers, makes addition a snap...also builds confidence. He built walls of 10 on down to 5 and made a little fort.

I think you can guess what comes next. Knocking them down is the most fun...why not use a nerf gun? We're just playing and having fun while we learn math. Kids will often build walls or set up addends over and over again so they can shoot them down...I wish I had video. That gun couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. LOL!

Okay, fort destroyed, clean up and on to some algebra where we played what completes the square...

Here he is putting 25 in the corner, to complete x² + 10x + ___, he had started from x² + 2x + __, then x² + 4x + __, x² + 6x + __, x² + 8x + __. Again the algebra is along for the ride, he is getting lessons in addends, square numbers and dividing by two...not memorizing formulas involving b/2a...when the time comes though those formulas will make sense...

Now onto his brother. Again we start with addends he got a lot more done faster using the tray. The other way is "cooler" but usually takes longer. If you are playing at home time is not an issue but when you are paying 50 bucks an hour it can be. The one thing I will say about building the tower is that he gets more practice because the walls fall down and have to be rebuilt as you go...it took him a while to build the second story without knocking down the first story...each of those wall was built and repaired more than once. In the tray he does it once and moves on...

Except when he takes the tens out fo no apparent reason and had to put them back in again. AGAIN note the use of both hands because I made him do it...and reminded him verbally more than once...

He was quite proud of the finished product because it looks cool. Kids also find out that building walls out of addends are cooler to shoot at than walls all built out of the same block over and over again...

Then we factored some quadratics started small and worked our way up. First one we did was x² + 5x + 6. Here he is doing x² + 8x + 15. But what he is really doing is learning an addend for 8 and figuring out that 3 x 5 = 15. Also that 15 can be 5 threes or 3 fives...also some division concepts and as an added bonus factoring a quadratic. He is learning counting skills...just happen to be using algebra to teach them, could just as easily be using fractions. I use algebra because it is known to be HARD in kid culture so it builds confidence and self esteem in students like these who are having problems learning math at school

Now I made him get out two tens and a four and measure it with various blocks...he already tried nines...didn't come out evenly...24 is two nines and some more, three nines is too much...eights fit perfectly and he can see 3 eights is the same as 24...but with sevens 3 isn't enough and 4 is too many...and he counted out 7 x 3 = 21 and 7 x 4 =28...he wasn't wrong to get out sevens he was just getting more information and learning as he went. Soon he had eights, and sixes and fours and threes...and calculated that it would take 12 twos...quite a bit of math from just building a wall of 24...

And now he gets some base ten block battle action too. Here he is setting up 12's. Gets the addends for twelve and counts by twelves...note the use of two hands.

And then shoots the twelves. But never did hit one with that gun. Got a nerf pistol out and made quite a few hits. Kids will usually make more targets and shoot them down over and over again which requires building them over and over again. Tom Sawyer taught me well. SO much more fun than doing a work sheet adding little numbers together. Plus you get fine motor skills AND a whole brain activity instead of just using the dominant writing hand. Here is an article that provides a clue.

"Mathematics may be defined as the economy of counting. There is no problem in the whole of mathematics which cannot be solved by direct counting." ~Ernst Mach

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