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Tag: manipulatives

We will be switching to Singapore Primary Mathematics 1B this week and in planning the lessons, I started organizing our math manipulatives. Then I went on to clean and organize the whole Learning Loft. This includes our Math Manipulative Closet which I don’t think I ever mentioned it before. I’ve gotten a few emails asking where I store/organize everything, so hopefully this will help others who are looking for ideas.

The narrow closet is just off our loft area. It works perfectly to hide all our manipulatives. Since I’ve entertained using quite a handful of math programs, I ended up with lots of math manipulatives, starting with our MUS blocks. I admit that I’m a helpless addict to this kind of stuff. In this closet, I try to keep the supplies Satori might want to take out to play with on her own on the lower shelves that she can reach. She just loves playing with her math manipulatives.

The lowest shelf holds our MUS blocks, ManipuLite Pattern Blocks and Color Cubes, Geometric foam solids, Math Links, Linking Cubes, 1″ wooden blocks, Cuisenaire Rods, Math dice games, Place Value Kit, 1″ plastic square tiles and a few other various counting items like shiny rocks and beads. (To see any photo larger, just click on it.)

Next shelf holds more manipulatives and some logic games. We’ve got Tangoes Tanagrams, Large Rubber Vehicle Counters, smaller Kid and Wild Animal counters, transparent disc counters, plastic coins, tanagram shapes, blue and multicolor centimeter cubes, Unifix cubes and disc counters. We’ve got a few logic games up here, but we keep some in our game closet downstairs. Here you’ll find Mighty Mind, Logic Links, Block Buddies, Rory’s Story Cubes, Hundred Mat, and magnetic fractions. You can see I went wild with the labeler!

On the floor rest our math balances and scales, time clock and long pointy thingies like yard sticks, big thermometer, and a pointer.

Top shelf holds science and social studies stuff: Microscope and slides, Animal flashcards, timelines, Magnet kit, Little Passports suitcase… The shelf below it holds workbooks we’ll be using very soon. I’m entertaining moving ALL our math and logic games and storing them on the second shelf, but I’m not sure there would be enough room.

Things we use on a daily basis are taken out of the closet and stored on the bottom shelf of a small bookcase we have in the middle of our Learning Loft. The red tote holds our math manipulatives and math cards so we can easily take it all out while we do math. The abacuses we use all the time are also within convenient reach. I’ve decided to store our Singapore math books down here too as they are shorter than our normal binders and workbooks that we store elsewhere. We put a children’s dictionary here too, Satori uses it often. A new manipulative we’ll be using soon are the Unifix and linking cubes.

I know with the co-op there is a big rush to buy RightStart Math this month, and some people have been asking in the homeschool forums and a few emails to me whether they need to get all the manipulatives. The most important manipulative you’ll need is the special AL Abacus. A normal abacus won’t do unless it has the special coloring of 5 beads one color, 5 beads another color and then switching at 50 beads. You’ll want the math card games, but the DVD and manual aren’t necessary for Level A. As for the rest, some households just might have the rest of the manipulatives. If not, you’ll be happy with the normal Level A Starter Kit. (We’ve only done Level A so far, so I can’t answer for other levels.)

STARTER KIT OR DELUXE STARTER KIT?

A year ago I purchased RightStart math and only got their Level A Starter Kit ($115 at the time), as I couldn’t afford $200 for their Deluxe Starter Kit. Since the Deluxe version is $80 more, I just wanted to assure people that you don’t need to get that, not for Level A. I see their Deluxe kit only got 2.5 stars out of 5 on their own website, although it doesn’t show any review comments. Maybe it’s because other people realize the extra manipulatives aren’t totally needed right away. Here’s the extra 8 things you get.

As mentioned before, you don’t really need the Card Games book (or you can get separately when you’re ready). Most households will have a calculators well as a dry erase board/pen. You can use real coins or may already have plastic ones  on hand, either way, you don’t need the coins right away.

One of the “deluxe” manipulatives is their math balance, which looks pretty neat. However, it is NOT needed for Level A if you already have some sort of scale at home. We just did the only RightStart A lesson that involved a scale today. It was way easier for us to use our simple balance we already had. If you use theirs, you have to add your own home-made pans so you can weigh things – not something I wanted to do. Here’s the scale we used, the Learning Resources Pan Balance Junior – it cost just $16.99. Unfortunately, it is frustratingly inaccurate, even when you adjust it to balance out (see the yellow sliders). Once I finally got the empty scale to balance most of the time, and added some weight to each pan, it worked okay for this simple lesson. So I guess this is my negative review for this particular product. I now see there is a non-Junior version of the Pan Balance that got better reviews. I’m tempted to try that one out.

The very last RightStart lesson uses Geometric Solids, which is included in the Deluxe version, so I had to order that manipulative. I just ordered some on Amazon and got free shipping. But again, some families might already have this on hand, and if not, you have the entire level to get a hold of some geometric solids.

Hopefully this post may help someone out if they’re deciding on purchasing one of the RightStart Starter Kits. I started with the normal Starter Kit, but during the year I did buy the Card Games book, the Math Balance, Plastic Coins from them, and the only thing I’ve used after almost an entire RightStart level was the plastic coins.

We’ll be finishing up RightStart A next week and then we’re taking a break. We’ll be going on summer vacation to National Parks and then mid-July we’ll be starting up RightStart B. Hopefully that level we’ll be able to use our RightStart math balance.

All summer, I kept hearing about this awesome math curriculum that had some math games that families and math students were having a blast with. Naturally I had to check it out, so I ordered RightStart Level A. It sat for about a month, but recently we started in!

RightStart Mathematics Level A

RightStart Mathematics Level A

WOW. I had NO idea of exactly how cool this program was… I read the first 10 lessons and realized this program will rock in getting to understand math in your head. No counting on hands to do math. How is that? They break up numbers in chunks of 5 and 10. It’s easy to visualize with all their manipulatives and extra activities.

First off, your hand naturally has 5 fingers, both hands have 10. So you always have a “handy” way to see the numbers in the chunks of 5! Next, tally marks are grouped by 5. Here is the number 8:

Tally Marks - 8

Tally Marks - 8

This concept of chunks of 5 is so important, they even have a song for it! It’s easy to memorize and helps you remember your “chunks”. Here’s the first verse, included in a CD in their Right Start A Starter Kit.

Yellow is the sun, SIX is FIVE and ONE.

Finally, the manipulative they are most famous for, is their special AL Abacus (not sure what the AL stands for). Specially marked beads designate groups of 5. A row is 10. A half board is 50. Then they swap the colors to mark 51, and the full board is 100. See for yourself.

RS Abacus

RS Abacus

Students do not have to count at all, it is easy to visualize 5 + 3 is 8, so they slide over 8 all at the same time. No more slow and erroneous counting of 1… 2… 3… and so on. Just simply 8.

AL Abacus - quantity of 8

AL Abacus - quantity of 8

Soon, Satori will be able to do addition and subtraction in her head! Not only that, but each lesson is very interesting and covers multiple concepts and so far in the first 7 lessons, we are learning days of the week, parallel, and so much more. You won’t be doing an entire year of just addition, now you’ve got fun, games, and an intuitive way to think of math so you “get it”.

I got RightStart for the games, I almost forgot about that in my excitement about the actual curriculum. I really think Satori is going to rock in math because of their approach. Instead of boring worksheet/flash card drills, these games will help reinforce what she’s learned. I cannot wait.

Here’s what we ordered – the Right Start Starter Kit Level A. Includes most of the manipulatives and materials we’ll need, we already have some of the extras at home. It came in a big box:

RightStart Level A Starter Kit

RightStart Level A Starter Kit

Here is a sample page out of a lesson, the manual/workbook are included in the above kit. As you can see, it uses visual, auditory, and kinesthetic activities to help with the lessons. And it’s fun!

Lesson page

Lesson page

Satori and I spent the morning playing with our Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) manipulatives. It really is the first time I pulled these out! We are in our Pre-K book, and just got over the capital letters L, F, E, H, T, I, and U. Today we reviewed by feeling with our hands the correct formation of the letters. First up was the Stamp and See Screen.

HWT Stamp and See

HWT Stamp and See

Then on to the Roll-A-Dough letters and rolled little red snakes to form the letters.

HWT Roll-A-Dough Letters

HWT Roll-A-Dough Letters

I am pretty confident she’s got this set of capital letters down now. Next HWT lesson, is on to the Magic C!