Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Homework help: Place Value Apps

Understanding how numbers are put together and the value of each digit or place is critical for working with Number and Algebra in Mathematics. Understanding place value can help you to complete mental calculations, estimate accurately and solve problems in an everyday context. Here are two Apps that I have found which could be helpful in assisting your child to consolidate their understanding of this concept and have fun creating and manipulating numbers. Best of all, at the time of review they were both FREE!

Name of App: Wishball
PublisherEducation services Australia 
Format: this App is available via the App Store for iPad and can also be found on the internet for computers 
Age: primary school - children who are able to read hundreds and thousands

Generally any Apps from this publisher are good as they have been used by schools as Learning Federation objects in Victoria for years. Basically you are given a target number and have several chances to reach it by adding or subtracting the digit you spin on the Wishball from the appropriate place. There is an excellent visual model on screen as well to help you see what is happening to the number as each place is being manipulated. If you're child is ready for decimal numbers, try the ultimate version (available online). As a teacher, this is a personal favourite of mine as the visuals can prompt a lot of discussion and opportunities for children to make connections and discoveries about how numbers work.

Name of App: Cookie Factory
Publisher: Vertical learning (see for discussion ideas)
Format: this App is available on iPad
Age: Middle primary

This is a great App for children who are starting to make models of numbers up to 3 digits. In this game, players are asked to use different combinations of single cookies, stacks of cookies (tens) and boxes of cookies(hundreds) to fill orders. As you collect cookies there is a running total displayed under the order number. There are options to increase or decrease difficulty and to play with or without a time limit. You could ask your child how they could collect the same amount of items using different materials such as bundling straws, matchsticks, icy pole sticks, an abacus or MAB blocks. 

Why bother doing this?
When children are given time to explore the same concept in a variety of different ways, it allows space for deeper understandings to develop and consolidation to occur. It also allows time and space for children to explore their own perceptions about numbers and develop and test their own theories or rules. Encourage your child to explain what they are thinking and doing rather than using these Apps for entertainment. Ask your child or their teacher about what kinds of materials they are using at school so you can help make a connection between home learning and school learning.

Questions you could ask:
What does each digit mean? 
What does each digit in the number represent?
When/where might we need to use this number?
Can you make this number another way? How? 
I wonder what a higher/lower number could be...

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