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The Math SPOT

When children first move beyond tens and ones and venture into the hundreds place, it can be confusing to see the abstract symbols (numbers with place value) if they have not had enough concrete experience with counting. The same can be said about thousands and beyond, and even more so when exploring to the right of the decimal point.

Here is a progression of activities that will help students understand the size of large (and very small) numbers and help them solve problems with adding and subtracting those numbers with and without regrouping.

Buy some bags of beans or lentils in the supermarket. They’re an inexpensive manipulative – you can get thousands for only a few dollars. Or use craft materials – beads, sequins, etc. – that are small and inexpensive.

Tell students that your class has been hired by a factory to count and package the beans for shipping…

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