Mrs. T's First Grade Class inspires me often with her ideas. As I'm learning how to press my mathematicians conceptually, her idea of place value decomposition has come in so very handy. Here's a picture from her blog. Click on it to go directly to her post. You'll definitely want to read the story behind this picture.
In the past, I would have been happy if my kids knew that 47 was 4 tens and 7 ones. It's a great place to start, but learning to be flexible with decomposition will prepare them for their future experiences with math so much more. I took Mrs. T's idea and found a few ways to use it with my kids. (It's certainly not something they can do once or twice and thoroughly understand. We'll be coming back to this often I'm sure.)
I sent pairs of students to travel around the room to various collections of cubes. On their sheet of paper, they documented a slow, fast, and fancy way to decompose the number of cubes. (Thank you Mrs. T for that language. It makes so much sense to them!)
This is a picture of two kids who had just finished. After I quickly checked them, they got to travel to a new set of cubes.
Here's a close-up picture of their slow, fast, and fancy ways.
Another activity we tried involved Smarties. I gave each child two collections of Smarties. They found a slow, fast, and fancy way to break apart the number of Smarties they had.
I'd sure like to thank Mrs. T. She deserves the credit for helping me push my kids to a new level of thinking about numbers!