Looking for hands-on activities to help your Prep to Year 6 student learn Maths’ facts and concepts? Look no further than the humble icy-pole stick which can be purchased in packs of 100 or 200 from a bargain shop or Art supplies shop in the craft section. Find a container with a lid to keep them in, some rubber bands for bundling them in groups of ten, and you have a wonderful, inexpensive aid for many different activities. See the list below for some ideas:
- Count to 9 by laying out sticks next to one another.
- Match a number of objects to the same number of icy-pole sticks e.g. ‘Here are four icy-pole sticks. Can you find me four toys – one for each icy-pole stick? How many toys do we have here?’
- Bundle 10 sticks with a rubber band and count 1 ten, 2 tens, 3 tens etc up to 9 tens (learning the names of the tens comes later starting with 60, 70, 80, 90).
- Teach place value using a ‘Place Value Chart’ (a small whiteboard with a line drawn down the middle and the headings ‘tens’ on the left side and ‘ones’ on the right side is ideal) and lay out two digit numbers with the tens on the left and ones on the right.
- Add ones or tens (bundled sticks) to a given number laid out on a Place Value Chart and say the answer starting with sums no bigger than nine ones or nine tens e. g. 24 + 5.
- Extend by adding ones with sums greater than ten and show how to bundle ten and move it to the tens column e.g. 26 + 5 where 6 + 5 makes 1 ten and 1 one.
- Doubles of all digits up to 9 + 9 and recording the answer.
- Add 2-digit numbers to 2 digit numbers with renaming of 10 ones as 1 ten, bundling them and moving them to the tens column.
- Subtract a 1-digit number from a 2-digit number where a bundle of tens has to be renamed as 10 ones and moved to the ones column so that subtraction can take place.
- Multiply 2-digit numbers by 1-digit numbers (small 1-digit numbers only).
- Divide 2-digit numbers by 1-digit numbers.
- Explore patterns and predict next number of sticks where each arrangement of sticks builds onto the one before, e.g. a square of 4 sticks is built on to make two squares by adding 3 sticks to the first square and so on. How many sticks for the shape with 6 squares?
- Tally by laying 4 sticks next to one another and then placing the 5th one across.
The image above shows how icy-pole sticks can be used with a small whiteboard (or piece of cardboard covered with contact) and whiteboard markers to demonstrate the process for adding 26 and 45 by adding the ones first, bundling ten of the ones to make one ten and moving it to the tens column to make a total of 71.