Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I wanted to get an abacus for Smarty for a while. My husband eventually got one on their last trip to IKEA. This abacus looks pretty much like the one we both had way back when except its gigantic size. Fortunately, it stores well, and Smarty loves playing with it. Unfortunately, it is not split into fives by color, and Smarty still doesn’t see groups of five the way we, adults, see them. At least she quickly figured out how to count by 10s using it. To be honest, mostly she enjoys it as a musical instrument – she is fascinated with the sound the beads make as when she hits them with her hands. I think it will be more useful in later years, but at least we have it on hand now.
I wanted to try coordinate games with Smarty since we read books about maps and they mentioned coordinates. I printed this Valentine game from Mathwire here. We didn’t have an ABC dice, so we played with a dice and a set of ABC plastic letters pulled at random. Having M&Ms on the board proved to be highly motivational – Smarty had no problems with reading coordinate pair and positioning her game pieces. The game, however, didn’t work well with the proposed set up – we both only captured one M&M per round. Anyway, she had fun and wanted to play it several times this week.
I wrote about our love for MiniLuk before. My husband really likes to create games, and he made several math game sheets for Smarty that he bound into the book. He doesn’t do anything half-way – he created his own characters (Pat the Cat and Bob the Dog) that are present on every page. I have to say that this numbers challenge is really very much on edge of what Smarty can do and is not easy for her – she can add, but only by counting dots on the dice. You can download the game here, but you will need a MiniLuk controller to play it.


Christy said...

My children are motivated by m&ms too.

We have an abacus but I have yet to do anything with it. The kids use it as a toy. I should make a point to do something productive with it soon.

Booklover1212 said...

Hmmm...I never thought about an abacus!

I'll have to look for one now!!

Thanks for the idea!

~ Jennifer

Kim said...

I've been thinking about getting an abacus too. Someday soon. I love that your husband made that game for Anna. You are both such great, involved parents!

MaryAnne said...

We have that same abacus, my kids use it mostly as a toy for now, but hopefully it will prove useful as the years go by.

Debbie said...

I never learned to use an abacus myself. We were introduced to one in elementary, but I never figured the concept out, and it wasn't something we were expected to know. I have thought about picking one up and figuring it out with Selena, we'll see.

I am still very interested in the MiniLuk controller though.

Jamie said...

I recently got an abacus for my 3.5 year old from http://www.alabacus.com/. The abacus is split into 5's by color, and the website has a number of free articles in which you can read about the author's math philosophy and get ideas. Basically, it's about understanding number by "subitizing" rather than counting, and teaching children to think of numbers in terms of their relation to 5 and 10. I'm so convinced that this is the way to go! It's like mathemagic! I wish I'd had this abacus when I was a kid! We've also been playing dreambox.com, which uses a similar approach. A few months ago, she didn't really "get" quantities above 3, but then something 'clicked' in her mind, and she could see how numbers can be 'chunked' into smaller numbers. I'd recommend playing subitizing games with dice, dominoes, cards with patterns, etc. to help build number sense.

Crunchy and Green said...

We have an abacus from when our older son was younger, and M is not ready for it as a math tool yet, but she does like to slide the beads around and count by 1s on it! How talented that your husband created his own games for her.

Anonymous said...

We have the same abacus that Jamie mentioned and we really like it. The colors by 5 really does help. It really helped with the concept of place value as well.

We LOVE the Mini-Luk. I picked it up at a homeschool convention last year. I'd never thought about making my own games. Thanks so much to you (and your husband) for sharing this!

Ticia said...

I remember seeing a math program that was completely based around using the abacus, under the theory the ancient Chinese had great math skills. That cracked me up when I saw it.
Each time you talk about the Mini-Luk I keep wanting to buy it. I haven't quite broken down yet and bought it though.

Adriana said...

Diego has been totally uninterested in the abacus until recently. His Papi is not much for reading books to him so they do a nightly math project. I think that most of Diego's interest comes from spending time with his dad.