Translated from this post by Jane Kats.
Recently, at our math lessons with 5-6 year olds, we were … threading beads.
Actually, we were making very simple abacuses.
We were putting 5 light beads and 5 dark beads on a string.
Then we played a game where the kids would hide some of the beads in their hands and I had to guess how many they hid of each color.
I was guessing correctly, and the five year olds were very surprised.
They can all count to 12, and many can count further, but they still don’t fully understand how I can know how many beads they are hiding in their hand…
Putting on the beads
Who can hide as many as I did?
Later, we played with these beads with the 4-year olds.
And at the math festival we also played with these beads on a string.
You can see some beautiful pictures from it here.
Now we are playing “a game of 10”.
The goal is to find a pair of cards that have a total of 10 black squares on them.
Each card has 10 squares, 2 rows of 5. Some of them are colored and the total number of colored ones is written in a corner of the card.
Hiding all but 6 beads on the string and seeing how many need to be added to make a total of 10.
It sounds easy, but many 6 year olds search for a while, pointing with their finger and going through the possibilities.
It is not obvious to them that if here we have 2 white ones and there 2 black ones then together there are precisely 10.
Eventually they find pairs that “work”.
I think that this is precisely one of those cases where one needs to realize and understand before memorizing.
Pairs that are found are given to me and then I give the students additional cards…
We also play games where to answer one needs to use fingers – say,
add fingers so that together we have 10.
With younger kids we first play add until we have 5, and that
too is not always easy.