I recently opened up my teacher closet searching for goodies. Not the kind that you can eat- no, those end up going to the party in my tummy (shout out to Yo Gabba Gabba). I was looking through my many boxes of math curriculum from my school teaching days to see what I could use for my Boo. And although I pulled every box out of the closet (there were several), the favorite manipulative of choice was one sitting on the top in a long thin box........my trusty number balance scale.
I bought this for my second graders as a good way to show true number sentences. Like 6 + 1 = 7..... It is a great visual- you put weights on the numbers 6 and 1 on one side, and then 7 on the other side, and it balances out. And it helped out when we talked about untrue number sentences (or the unequals sign). Untrue number sentences wouldn't balance out. It's a great tool!
So I KNEW that there would have to be some ways that I could use this teaching tool for my tot! And this is the list of what I came up with- some we have tried, some have yet to be tried- but I thought I would share this to inspire the math teacher in us all.
- Simple Number Recognition game - divide the scale into half- one side is yours, one side is your tots. I always take the left hand side since the numbers are going from right to left, and I want my tot to see them the "counting up" way- but really it doesn't matter. You place a weight on any number- let's say 4. You then have your tot place a weight on their number 4. Your tot will know if he/she got it right because the scale will balance.
- Extension of the Simple Number Recognition game- instead of placing a number on the scale, put weights on every single number on both sides. You take a number away and tell your tot something cheezy like "Numbers, numbers, I am going to pick......5! Now you pick 5!" With your older tot you can go into details about how the scale becomes unbalanced.
- Very Simple Addition game (needs to be able to recognize numbers 1-10) - place a small number of weights on the number one on your side of the scale. ask your tot "how many weights do I have?" Have him/her count the scales and place one weight on their side of the scale on the answer. Again, your tot will know if he/she got it right because the scale will balance.
- Count With Me game- give you and your tot ten weights. Out loud, count from one to ten together while each of you place a weight on the appropriate side of the scale. This will help your tot to see the numbers while saying them... it's a pretty simple activity!
- Guess Your digit game- place your weight on any number on your side of the scale. Cover your side so your tot can't see where you placed your number (not quite sure how to do that...hmm, I will have to think about it) Have your tot try and guess your number by placing his/her weight on different numbers until the scale balances. Then a correct answer can be given!
- An extension of the Guess Your Digit game- place 2 weights on your side of the scale (make sure the sum of these numbers is 10 or less). Have your child find the sum by placing a weight on a number and looking to see if the scale balances. As I am writing this I am being very wary of the actual learning that might be taking place- it seems more of a guessing game- but there is absolutely nothing wrong with a little exploration every now and then and who knows- this might spark some curiosity in your little one to learn to add. I would use this more as a skill builder after your child has been taught this skill. If they already know that 2 + 2 = 4, then this would be a great way to show them. Or if you were counting the people in your family- and you had your tot count 3 girls and 2 boys, then it would be a great way to show that 3 + 2 (on one side of the scale) equals 5 (on the other side) because it balances. And you could go back and add everyone up just to make sure you were correct! I hope this is making sense!
- Tell Me What You Have game- give your tot some weights (2 to start out with, then you can add more as they grasp this game) Have them place the weights on any numbers- even the same number twice! Then have them TELL you where to place the weights. For example, I have 1 weight on 3, and 2 weights on 7- or more simply 1 three and 2 sevens. This will be great for developing some math language and giving them a great foundation for addition and multiplication.
- On the back of our scale, there are blank circles that are intended for you to create your own scale. How fun would it be to (on both sides of the scale) write 10 letters of the alphabet , or draw 10 shapes, or 10 different numbers, or pictures of 10 different family members for the wee ones- and have your tot find the match on the other side! And of course, if they get the answer right, the scale will balance! This might take some extra work to set up initially, but would a great hands on activity for ANY matching practice!