There is an epidemic in our upper elementary math classes...teachers are not using manipulatives! Many teachers are still stuck to the belief that our children MUST memorize their facts and no longer use hands-on experiences in math. Our students in the upper grades are still children and enjoy learning through manipulatives, play, and interaction with others.
Using manipulatives at the beginning of a new concept or skill is vital to many students. They need to experiment with the tools and tasks, along with conceptually see how to perform the algorithm or skill. I still see students in the upper grades struggle with regrouping because they are still in the conceptual learning of the skill and not the abstract, and many upper grades quickly move to the abstract.
Every year I taught 4th grade I always had a handful of students who still struggled with regrouping in addition and/or subtraction. This year I was helping out in several 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classrooms and saw the same struggle, a handful of students who were still in the conceptual aspect of regrouping.
I created a small set of task cards for these students, and those in your classroom too, for them to practice and hopefully move over to the abstract level of thinking with this skill. There are eight addition and eight subtraction task cards. Each card has an equation represented by base ten blocks. I also created a record sheet where they read and write the equation in the box and a record sheet where the equation is already written for them. This is so you can use a record sheet that best meets the needs of your students.
These are also great for your RTI groups.
Mental Math is another important math skill for our students. Fact fluency is not determined by how fast a student can remember their facts, but if they are fluent with manipulating numbers. Utilizing mental math to compose and decompose numbers is fundamental for students development of fact fluency.
I created these task cards to help students build on number relationships rather than memorization procedures to solve problems. This set of task cards focuses on students ability to “make tens” to solve addition problems mentally. Students look for numbers within an equation to create groups of ten.