Counting Chicks - 1st Grade Math

For the past two weeks, 1st grade math teacher, Robin Davis, has been working with her students on the properties of addition and subtraction through stories about some loveable hens named Loretta and Rhoda and their ten baby chicks. During this time, the students have been solidifying their understanding of addition and subtraction facts to and from 10. At the same time, they are discovering important properties of addition and subtraction that are useful for solving problems with numbers greater than 10.

“Easy - it’s the old ‘Meyer Switch-a-Roo!’” or “I know - that’s just like Avery’s way!” are common phrases overheard in class when solving problems using the commutative property. If students know that 8 + 2 = 10, then 2 + 8 also equals 10.  

The “Alex Bump” is another strategy that comes in handy with addition problems big and small. In one session, when solving 6 + 4, student Alex took one from the six, bumping one bead over on the number rack to make the problem look like 5 + 5.  Later, students explored useful applications of the “Alex Bump” in problems such as 9 + 7, 29 + 7, and even 58 + 5.  

Another student, Eben, and others discovered that breaking apart a number can be useful too. When looking at 8 + 2 on the number rack (which is set up with 5 red beads, followed by 5 white beads), it was easy to break the 8 into 5 + 3 and then recombine the 3 and 2 into a friendly 5. (5+3) + 2 = 5 + (3+2).

While numbers to ten may seem small for some, learning these properties and thus being able to be flexible with how we approach different problems, is incredibly powerful for building number sense and confidence working with numbers.


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