Sunday, May 29, 2011

Alligator Greater!

Adventures in numbers and puppets!



Home school at my house often involves two things: big projects and workbooks. Today, we've decided to incorporate both. She has been progressing rather well in math lately. We work on basic addition using number lines, groups of objects, and whatever else we can think of to hone in her adding skills. Lately, we've been working on the place values of ones, tens, and one hundreds. While she's great at recognizing two and three digit numbers, the concepts of tens and hundreds place, and what they represent were a little difficult to understand at first.


In order to help cement these ideas in her head, we started going back a bit to the concepts of greater than and less than. Looking at large groups of numbers and having her count them will drive her to want to compartmentalize them into smaller groups. Who wants to count 50 objects, when you can put them into five groups of ten? Going back to greater than/less than was one way we could help with this. We started out with basic worksheets, with really simple pictures.

This was a piece of cake for her. So I started giving her more of a challenge. I would say two numbers,  and she would have to tell me which was greater. For example, I would say 2,014 and 1.125, which one is greater? Sometimes I would have to repeat the numbers, but she got the hang of it really quickly.

After a while, we decided that it was time to get creative. One of the best things about home school is that you can change things up a bit to keep things interesting, or to help make something complicated seem easier. Kat's great idea for today was to make a puppet show! She's been watching a lot of  Peter Weatherall lately, and wanted to make a puppet of Mr. McGreedy, the "alligator greater". Not only would this be a fun way to spend the afternoon, but we could incorporate measuring, painting, and a little bit of engineering into making our puppet!

You can make your own alligator greater puppet! Here is what you'll need to do:

1. Do a google image search for alligators. Look carefully at the alligator's open mouth, the overall shape of it's head, and where it's eyes are. 

2. Cut out a large piece of cardboard. Have your child measure the length of the cardboard, then divide into two equal parts. This is a good opportunity to talk a bit about fractions, addition, and subtraction, while using your cardboard as an example. 

3. Have your child help you draw the alligators head. You'll need two pieces, the top half, and the bottom jaw. Cut them out (adults only please!) and set them aside.

4. Put the pieces together, and poke a hole in the side of the head for the brad. Make sure that you get through both pieces, and that the mouth will open and close once the brad is in. Once you've got your brad in there, you've got a working alligator mouth!

5. Paint it! My daughter and I picked out alligator colors, and talked about where each color might work the best. Then I left her to her own devices, and she came up with a pretty rockin' Mr. McGreedy.

6. Play with it! Have a alligator greater puppet show! Use your alligator when working on greater than/less than problems. It's also fun to not allow him to eat anything. If two numbers are equal, my daughter tells the alligator, "oh, sorry Mr. McGreedy, their the same, you can't eat them!"


Please tell me Mr. Alligator, which of these numbers is the greater?
This puppet has been great to have around the house. Not only have we been able to use him for our greater than/less than lessons, but my daughter has been hosting her very own puppet shows for her family and her toys!

Happy puppet making!


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