Even if we did have them at one time, I'm guessing nobody really knew what the heck to do with them, so eventually they started to get packed away, given away, thrown away (?!) or lost. I have to admit, If I had one in my room before the training, I wouldn't have known what to do with it either. But this is truly an amazing and fun math resource to have.
Let's start with a quick overview of how a Number Balance works using addition. The blue "weights" you see stacked on the base of the balance are all the same. They are not numbered or of different weights and you can use any of them on either side. The magic is in the balance itself. You can see here I have one weight on the 6 pin on each side and it's balanced.
Now, I move it over just one pin so you can see how obviously unbalanced it becomes by being "off" just one number. The lesson to the kids: 6 and 5 are not equal, so they don't balance. This reinforces the concept that the equal sign symbolizes more than just "the answer comes next" and actually means that both sides of the equation balance.
Here I'm showing that 6 on one side balances with 2 + 4 on the other side.
Challenge your students to see how many combinations they can find to balance with 6.
You can even stack two weights on the 3 to show 6 balances with 3 + 3.
Neat right? There are so many ways to use this Number Balance. Teaching the kids that 5+1=4+2 can be amazingly difficult, but imagine showing them using the balance. Allow the kids time to work with the balance at centers and they'll soon be coming up with all the ways they can make it balance with equations on each side.
You can also use the Number Balance for subtraction, multiplication and division. It really is an amazing math manipulative - and the kids can't wait to get their hands on it! I've found a great free resource from Move It Math to use with the balance. It has teacher information and task cards and activity pages for the kids to use at a center or small group. Just click on the picture below to check it out:
How would you like one for your classroom? Just enter the giveaway below for a chance to win one!
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