Thursday, July 12, 2012

Function Box

We made a function box.  It's proving fun to play with.  Older toad understands the concepts of the four basic functions (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) but sometimes he can be slow since he still usually relies on figuring the sums every time.  He is NOT a flash card kind of kid.  I'm hoping incorporating more games will help him speed up naturally.

How we play - 3" X 5" card goes in one side with a number written on it.
Option #1 -  It comes out and I tell him a number.  He has to say which function was performed on the original number to get the second number.  Example - the card says 3, it goes through the machine and I say, "12", he would correctly say multiplication.

Option #2 - It comes out and I ask him to perform a function and give the answer.  Example - the card says 5, it goes through the machine and I say, "Add 4 and what do you get?".  He would correctly say "9".

That's how I envisioned it but he likes combining them.  So we do, "4 goes into the box and 12 comes out.  What did I do?"  He would say. "You added 8." and I remind him I could have multiplied by 3.  The most important part - you have to make a noise as the card goes through the function box, otherwise nothing will happen.

He of course loves getting to man the box and be the one who figures the problems.  He has surprised me with his accuracy and obsession with negative numbers.

I made our function box out of an old sunglasses box.  When they had their paint out I painted it.  I wrote the symbols for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, one on each side.  Then I turned them loose with star stickers.  I left the ends of the box on so I could close them up and store the cards we write on inside.  It's the perfect size for 3" X 5" cards.

If you'd like to get more fun math ideas check out the Living Math website.  Living Math is all about learning math in context and has proved a very valuable approach for us.

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