Friday, September 2, 2011

Math with M&Ms

One of the first things my students learn about me each year is that my favorite food is chocolate. For this reason, I try to incorporate chocolate into my lessons whenever I can (in moderation, of course). M&Ms make incredible math manipulatives, so I thought I'd dedicate this post to my M&M math resources.

At the beginning of first grade we work on mastering the recognition of basic numbers through dot patterns. Think of it like the numbers you see on dice. These are the same patterns we use to help students learn to visually recognize numbers quickly. Since dot patterns just use little circles, I figured it would be way more fun and motivational to use M&Ms to make our dots! Here are some pictures of the dot pattern mat I made and of my students creating dot patterns.
We teach the dot patterns for the numbers 1-9, so there are enough boxes for each number pattern.

I also found that this same mat can be used for a lot more than just dot patterns. I had the second graders in my class use this activity the next day, except they used the three boxes to make addition and subtraction sentences.

For example, the first box would contain 3 M&Ms, the second box 2 M&Ms, and the third box 5 M&Ms. Then, in between the boxes they would add the addition sign and the equals sign. When they were finished they ended up with the addition sentence 3 + 2 = 5 all in a wonderful, chocolatey and edible form!  I also plan to use this same mat when we practice place value for three digit numbers. I am convinced the possibilities are endless!