If you are a regular follower of this blog, you might be tired of me talking about combinations of 5, 10, 20 and 100. I spend a lot of time making sure students are fluent with these ideas and am always coming up with more ways to make sure students get the practice they need with these facts. Today is no exception. Over the holidays, I spent lots of time with my nieces and nephews and one of them had a fun looking paper cup they were playing with. All it is is a balloon that has been tied off and had the tip snipped off. Take a paper cup and cut the bottom out of it. Stretch the balloon over the cup and you have a little popper. I used the regular 9 oz paper cups for this but depending on what objects you want to pop and if you are working on numbers to 5, 10 or 20, a bigger or smaller cup might work out better for you.
Let's say you are working on combinations of 10. Give each student a popper cup and 10 pom poms. I made sure each kid had 10 of the same color so there wouldn't be arguing and let them get to work! They pull on the tied end of the balloon and release. Some of the pom poms will pop out and some will stay in the cup. This is a great time to ask questions about how many came out and how many are still left in the cup.
After a few rounds of popping, you can have kids make a simple record sheet and record their combinations. These can be done as addition or subtraction equations or in a table format.
Here are a few other things we have put in the poppers to work on number ID, shape ID and coins!
If you try these with your students remember that pom poms are a lot lighter and softer than other materials. If you have a large class or are short on space, stick with the pom-poms!