This class began the year with “equalizing”. That means we started with making “unequal” amounts of objects. They couldn’t be the same or “equal”. Over time the children came to know we were going to change unequal amount equal amounts by adding or subtracting to one side or the other.
As the year has progressed we began using symbols to represent these “equalizing” activities—making a math sentence. We use the + and the – sign as well as the = sign. We used them separately in the beginning to show whether we added or whether we took away.
Eventually we began, with lots of support, to make open sentences that showed how to make “4” = “9”. 4+?=9 (for the ? we used a box). We always used manipulatives with a paper that helped organize the objects.
Eventually, we moved to word problems. Children listened to a short word problem with a small visual and then drew their picture of the problem. We began using the whole math sentence. With support children could write 4+3=7, etc.
Next we began to look at the many ways to make 2 numbers equal 5, 6, 7, 8. We used stickers or unifex cubes or small farm animals. And children began to see that there are many ways to make each amount. We can reverse the numbers but they still make the same amount. They are still working to see the pattern of
Most recently we switched to making subtraction sentences using 6 small farm animals, some of which run away from a barnyard. Giving them the “6”, most of the children could construct their own “take away” or subtraction sentences. Children are still working on making their numbers. If over the summer there is time to help children not only make their numbers, but learn how to start at the top, that would be lovely.