Teaching 2nd graders numeracy is a tremendous responsibility. How does one make numeracy “fun” – this is the question that ran on my mind constantly.
How do I make it relatable to them, so that they feel it is interesting enough to take part in the subject with me?
Most importantly, how do I convert mathematics into mathe-magic?
I remember the time we had to start teaching numeracy in our classrooms. I remembered my own childhood, where mathematics terrified me. It is not that I did not like numbers, I didn’t feel comfortable about how it was taught to me. Textbook-oriented teaching was not the right approach for me, I had realized. When the time came, it was no surprise that the prospect of teaching my children numeracy filled me with a similar dread. After all, how else was I supposed to teach numeracy apart from how I had learnt it? Yet, all that changed the moment I executed my first demo class.
Sanki Monkey and the Power of Storytelling
Teaching the 2nd grade is the utmost joy in so many ways, but it also comes with tremendous responsibility. My primary motivation was to make this subject enjoyable, and not something they fear. Developing a positive attitude in them towards numeracy was crucial for me.
The framework of CPA (Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract) was introduced to us for teaching numeracy. Firstly, we had to use physical objects to solve mathematical problems. Secondly, the same concept should be translated to a pictorial representation. Finally, we express the above in mathematical terms, by solving a mathematical problem using only numbers*. On paper this framework was direct. But to apply it online was another task.
That’s where Sanki Monkey came in. I wanted to introduce a character loved by my class to help children connect with the subject. They were intrigued by him, but now he is an indispensable part of our classroom.
Sanki Monkey loves doing everything we do – playing with friends, buying chocolate. But he also has troubles that only numeracy can solve. How many fruits can Sanki Monkey carry in his bag? How much money should Sanki Monkey pay for a bar of chocolate? How many flowers can Sanki Monkey count on the screen? As the topics increased, we got help from Sanki Monkey’s friends – Tibby Tiger and Ribby Rabbit.
We also have fun carrying out experiments to understand certain concepts. We discovered how many glasses of water it takes to fill out a bowl. We also understood how much money Sanki Monkey will have left if he bought a pen, pencil, etc.
What I have learnt is that my children look forward to numeracy classes now. As a teacher, it feels encouraging to me to come to class with newer activities planned. As time goes on, I hope they continue to keep that spirit of curiosity alive. My ardent wish is that they see mathematics as mathe-magic!
* Emma Johnson, “What is The Concrete Pictorial Abstract (CPA) Approach And How To Use It In Maths”, May 4, 2021, available at: https://thirdspacelearning.com/blog/concrete-pictorial-abstract-maths-cpa/
Wordsmith: Abhinaya Sridharan – Bhumi Fellow