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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Manipulate Me!

cookies 003So despite my misgivings, I bought the frogs!

And today, our first real, purchased Math Manipulative came in the mail:  a set of 108 fancy, shmancy Funtastic Frogs, from Rainbow Resource in the U.S.  I tried to find a Canadian source, but the manufacturer wasn’t all that helpful… so they came with a small customs charge that required me to dig out the emergency credit card.  Ugh.

I was leery of ordering these because, okay, they’re plastic frogs in a bucket.  Three sizes, six colours, 108 altogether… how special could they be?  Plus, we already have lots of colourful things the kids could use for sorting, counting, patterns, etc.  It’s just more STUFF, and what I don’t want is STUFF. 

Well.  Indeed, they are stuff.  But cool, cute, stuff, as it turns out.  I love them!  And I think both kids will love playing them, too.  Who doesn’t love clacky happy mathy frogs?

You get three sizes, four of each colour in the medium and large sizes, and ten of each colour in the small size.  I was surprised by the frogs’ texture, which you can’t tell from the picture… they’re hard plastic, like beads, not soft like toys.  That gives them a nice weight in your hand (they sell a balance scale separately for weighing and measuring the frogs, but it’s a little pricey); they are cool and make a nice “clacking” sound; they make a nice multi-sensory first impression.

I also bought the “Logs for Frogs”, which let you attach up to ten small-size frogs of any colour to make patterns or start learning tens and place-holding.  Pretty fancy stuff for a kindergartner who can barely count to one hundred, but anyway, I think they’ll be fun.  Certainly, the logs will help the kids “meet” the frogs by building “frog menorahs” over the next couple of weeks.  (eight frogs in any pattern, a blank space, and a frog for a shamash!)

The  basic 108-frog mix also comes with a couple of no-frills black laces for stringing the frogs (the hole runs from top to bottom), and also an “activity sheet” that basically tells you to have your kids sort the frogs, count the frogs, or make patterns out of the frogs.  Thank you, but I could have figured that out on my own!

Anyway.  Right now, the kids are sleeping, so after counting to make sure they were all there, I put the frogs away on a high-up shelf.  I may not get a chance to formally roll these out with them until next week, but I’m looking forward to it.

I suspect one of the main purposes of a purchased manipulative is to get the teacher/parent excited about sharing math with the kids… and in this case, I’m pumped and ready to go!

1 comment:

JanKnitz said...

Hey, do you have a scale for bread baking? Let the kids use it for manipulatives. Not quite as fun as a balance scale but it works.

You can make your own balance scale out of something as simple as a hanger, string, and some sturdy paper plates. Hang the paper plates horizontally (with three pieces of string) from either end of the hanger. Hold the hook of the hanger on your thumb and try to balance the frogs on the plate. I hope this makes sense.

How fun--and they'll come in handy on Pesach too! Your kids can stage their own (plastic) frog plague ;o)