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cheap thrifty like moi? Want math manipulatives, but can’t bring yourself to spend your bottle-return money on teaching cards you may only use for a few months? Can’t find anything you want at the recycle store or yard sales?
Time to make your own.
Read my article about the digits to see why numbers have their shapes, and why we are going to make manipulatives with angles.
You will needs some paper strips. Use heavy card stock, popsicle sticks, or cardboard if you want the numbers to be sturdy and hold up to use. if you prefer a more tactile function then go for craft foam or glitter paper. You can also raid the garage for fine sandpaper (use old garage scissors or box cutter though, not your good paper scissors)! If you want your angles to move I recommend grommets/eyelets or brads. I have a Crop-a-dile (I love to say that…its so punny), but you don’t need one.
If you don’t want your angles to move, simply glue them in place.
You can enhance your angles (even if they don’t move) by gluing paper circles or pom-poms onto the angles so that the children are encouraged to touch and count. Want them to be auditory too? Tie on tiny bells. It would be an interesting game to have the child close their eyes and guess which number is jingling or which number is the quietest/noisiest.
I used strips that were 6.5 inches long and 1 inch wide. I cut them to length as I need them to make each number. The one for example, I shortened it’s “visor” to about half the length.
I only had one grommet. Dagnabbit. I had to switch to brads (brass paper fasteners). It worked out better since it is easier to fix mistakes and I did make a few. Four was the first number I had to think about the placement of two brads close together (so the horizontal on the four is slipped between two brads and can be slipped out easily); six and nine had the same placement. Seven by far was the hardest to get to look the way I wanted and it was still a little out of proportion. Eight is the only one that has angled outside corners; the brads in the center ended up in an attractive diamond shape. The only numbers that can’t be folded and their angles manipulated without removing the brads are 7 and 8. My four year old immediately started counting the dots — he forgot numbers, but he got the idea at least.
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