Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Every day counts - the bead chains

It has gotten a bit too cold for the great outdoors, but we've got plenty to keep us busy. For several weeks, now, many of the children have been interested in counting the bead chains. This first picture is of the bead chain material. This material illustrates the squares and cubes of the numbers 1 through 10. Note the bead squares and cubes sitting on the little shelves to the right. The top shelf holds color coordinated boxes with the counters and chain for each number's square. Hanging are each of the chains that when folded together would become that number's cube.
The next picture shows a child being introduced to this work. She is shown how the short two chain can be folded into the two square. Then she is shown how the long two chain can be folded into the two cube. Then she is shown how 2 two squares can be put together to make a two cube. The chains are counted and the counters are placed. The lesson is repeated with the three chain.

If the child desires, s/he can continue with the other chains in their order.

At its simplest, this activity is good for practicing the order of the numbers. That after 29 comes 30, and after 39 comes 40, etc. On the next level, it illustrates skip counting; counting by twos or threes or fives. On another level, an older child will see the multiplication tables. And finally, this material illustrates the squares and cubes of these numbers and their relationships with each other.
Counting the bead chains is a popular activity in the classroom. I believe it is the thrill of accomplishment. As the chains get longer, the image of a daunting task is found to be readily achieved with just a little perseverance.


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