Laminated photos of leaves, laminated pictures of lady birds, spinner with 10 numbers on it, dice with 1 more and 1 less written and another dice with 2 more, 2 less on it.
In the early years, a lot of learning originates from interactive play. Most children should come into Reception knowing their numbers to 10, possibly 20. In order to help them achieve this, they may be given input on the carpet, but more often than not, it is through teacher directed, small group tasks.
After they have learnt their numbers to at least 10, they find one more and one less than a given number. I have always found that children take a while to grasp that concept so I wanted to create an exciting interactive game that would help them understand quickly and confidently.
What misconceptions are the children likely to have? What confuses them?
Children also need to understand the language ‘more’ and ‘less’ before we move onto 1 more and 1 less. The teachers provide lots of child initiated play and adult- directed activities for this e.g. grouping objects and saying which one has the most/ least.
Why does giving them concrete apparatus help them? Why isn’t a number line enough?
What I did
Before we could start the game, the children needed to know the numbers 1 to 10, to recognise them as written numerals and to understand the quantity that they represent. I initially worked on this as a teacher directed task with a small group of children.
I started by asking them to show me 3 fingers, 4 fingers etc. Once we’d had this simple warm up, I began the game by placing one lady bird on a leaf and asking the children how many they could see. The children replied ‘one.’ Then I added a second ladybird ensuring the use the language of ‘more’ e.g. ‘Now, I’m adding ONE MORE. How many lady birds are there now?’ At this point I would also incorporate the word ‘altogether’. One comment from a child was “There are more ladybirds.”
After a few demonstrations of adding one more, I would then continue with the concept of ‘one less’. I asked the children questions such as ‘Altogether there are 5 ladybirds on the leaf. What is ONE LESS than 5?’ As I asked the question, I would demonstrate by taking one off the leaf. I would also begin to use the mathematical language of ‘take away.’ Two children commented “It’s gone. You’re not allowed to put it back,” and “ You make it go away.”
Once I had finished this demonstration, I would begin to let the children take control by using the spinner. By using the spinner, it is not only helping their knowledge of matching quantities to digits, but also giving the visual and kinaesthetic learners an opportunity to further their understanding.
The children take it in turns to spin the spinner and each time they put the number of ladybirds on the leaf that matches the number spun. They count as they place them on the leaf, which again assists all types of learners. Once they have done that confidently, they can then roll the dice and either put ‘ONE MORE’ ladybird on, or figure out what ‘ONE LESS’ would be.
For children who find this easy, extend them by using dice that read 2 more, 2 less or higher if appropriate.
What might those children who struggle need to reinforce first? More 1 to 1 correspondence? Help with vocabulary?
This activity was excellent in many ways as it made adding and subtracting accessible to many different learners in my class. Most of the children understood the concept on one more and one less and also began to understand some terms such as altogether, add and take-away.
I would say at this stage, (introducing 1more/ less) only HA children would understand add and take away. I knew most of the children understood because they were able to follow instructions, were able to use 1 more/ less and they were able to verbalise what they were doing.
The resource was useful to Reception children, because rather than just asking them what 1 more or 1 less was with their fingers, they were able to physically put one more on or take one away. Furthermore, by using a spinner, they had to read, understand and recognise how many the spinner said to pick up and how many they had to put on.
If this is used in reception, how could I adapt this for nursery and Year 1?
Nursery: Language more/less. Which leaf has the most ladybirds? Least ladybirds? Can you add more ladybirds? Can you take some more away?
Year 1: Have 2 leaves. How many ladybirds on each leaf? How many altogether? Can children write a number story to show what they had to do. E.g. 2 + 3 = 5
Other creatures and appropriate backgrounds can be used as well. This could link into your topic to keep the children motivated too. It is a bright, interactive resource that not only teaches the children about number and calculation but about animals and their habitats too!