That Lightbulb Moment


“Oh, wait Mom, I get it”.  Just the words I was waiting to hear all weekend!  That lightbulb moment when you see the spark of excitement and the eagerness to share their learning, I adore those moments. S, my oldest daughter, brought home a diagnostic report from a math exam last week.  After reviewing and analyzing the report, I noticed her main struggle was “recognizing equivalent forms of 2 digit numbers using tens and ones”. Here is an example:

2 tens + 5 ones = 1 tens + ______  or 2 tens + 5 ones = ___ tens + 15 ones

That afternoon, we pulled out the cubes and traded tens for ones. But, it still wasn’t mastered.  Over the weekend we reviewed in a variety of different ways but, she was still confused.  Then, on Sunday night, an idea took root.  Earlier that day, the family took a trip to Michaels. The girls asked to take some of their chore money to spend.  That is when it hit me; money, she loves playing with pennies and dimes.  So, here is the activity I came up with.

I folded paper into an accordion and placed a problem on each top fold.  Beneath the fold, was reserved for the answer.  Continuing the problems to the back of the paper, I added five problems.  The accordion pages she deemed magical as the questions kept appearing. Pulling down the piggybank, I collected 10 dimes and a pile of pennies.  For each turn, I had S trade 1 dime for 10 pennies. Towards the last problem, she had that lightbulb moment.  The excitement was evident as she raced to tell her Dad what she discovered.  On the outside, it doesn’t seem like a challenging problem, however sometimes it’s getting past the stumbling block of frustration to finally reach the solution.  Great job, little S, we are proud of you!

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