teaching math: a visual for numbers to the thousands

We have used Singapore Math for the last two years now.  I really love it.  I was not taught the same style (mental math, number bonds, ect) so I have had some trouble teaching it.  I often find myself tempted to have them finger count or number tap instead of memorizing the facts.

The thing that keeps me ordering Singapore year after year (I just placed my order for next year’s books) is that it make visual sense.  I think I would have done better learning this way because I tend to remember something I see and not something I hear or read.  Pictures stick in my head.

Today I saw a great video on how 3 Teacher Chicks use Singapore Math in the classroom.  I immediately made a set of what I’m calling “Extended Math Mats”.

Here’s Isabel working out a problem:

I love that she can see why we carry-over and borrow.

I already know I’ll use these mats for teaching younger children extended value as well.  We won’t add numbers, we’ll simply write them out while we count out bears.

You might wonder why you see yellow bears on the green mat…why are there purple ones on the blue mat?  It seems we haven’t enough bears.  Up until today they were mostly used as toddler tossing bears.

How do you teach math to your kids?  Do share your favorite math exercises and manipulatives.