Level Up: Adding Complexity to Deck o’ Dots

Nov 16, 2018

We launched our videos last week! Did you miss them?? Go check them out now!

level up featured imageWe talked about the videos looking at the area of numeracy in the previous blog, helping kids to subitize, instantly recognize how many dots are on the card, with the games Deck o’ Dots Duel, Deck o’ Dots Train, Deck o’ Dots SLAP! and Deck o’ Dots Less, Same, More.This week, we want to show you how you can make increase the complexity of Deck o’ Dots games to meet the needs of older or more advanced learners.

One Deck, Endless Differentiation

Deck-o-dots-3-card-stacks (2)Deck o’ Dots are all about versatility! Not only can you differentiate with the different color decks, but you can also differentiate by the mathematical skill you choose to focus on. 

There are so many ways to make a simple deck of cards work in preschool all the way up through 5th grade. One of the simplest ways to do this is using our green deck. 

scatter cards

Using the scatter deck that has both red and blue dots, you can make the red dots worth 10. This automatically makes even some of the simpler numeracy games, like Deck o’ Dots Duel from last week, more complex for students in 3rd grade and up. For example, a student might flip over 46 and 33 and they could even talk about how they could add those two numbers together by making 10s. Other teachers have ramped Deck o’ Dots up even into 4th and 5th grade by using multiplication or looking at factors of numbers. Some teachers even create their own Deck o’ Dots games as their students get more advanced.

The Next Level: Addition, Subtraction, Missing Addends

The games we want to feature this week are really focused on addition, subtraction, and missing addends. These games are a bit more complex to play, which is why we are so excited to be able to offer tutorial videos! They are great for helping teachers understand how we can take these games and integrate them into the concepts that we’re teaching in our classrooms.

Deck o’ Dots Duel is a game that can be used for combinations, especially when playing the double flip challenge game! In the challenge game, students flip over two cards and must find the sum before they can determine which partner has a higher quantity. This can be ramped up to sums as high as 20, or you could even to go higher sums by making the red dots worth 10. The accountability sheet is a great visual to help students look at addition sentences and determine how their quantity relates to their partners (greater than or less than).

Deck o’ Dots In the Cup, On the Side, In All is another great game for addition or “real counting on.”  Most kids are recounting from one when they’re adding, so we want them to learn to put the big number in their head and then “count on” (in 1st grade) since it makes solving problems a lot easier! This game involves using a cup, dice and counters to help kids recognize and practice this concept.

However, we want people to be careful with this game because, in number talks, we don’t want the kids to always think the best way to solve problems is counting on. Deck o’ Dots In the Cup is developmentally appropriate as students progress in their understanding of how to subitize. We would play this when kids in Kinder or 1st grade are learning to do addition by taking a whole and adding on. Once kids get to second grade, if you’re adding two numbers, you should really be using the “make a 10” strategy and counting on only if there are three or less.

For example, if we had 9 + 8, it really doesn’t make sense for us to count up on our fingers. Instead we would use the strategy of Abracus (compensation) which would make it an easier problem:  8 + 8 = 16 and add on one more. Or maybe we can use D.C. to solve that problem and use the strategy of making a 10. We could decompose 8 into 1 and 7, and add up the numbers (10 + 7) and quickly to recognize the answer to be 17. When students are combining two parts, In the Cup a great game to use as well.

Deck o’ Dots Same, More, Less also addresses combinations. In this game, kids decide if a number is greater than, less than or more than the focus sum. You could ramp this up by using addition where kids add two numbers together before deciding if the total they got is less, the same or more than the focus number.

Deck o’ Dots Difference is a great game for subtraction. A word of warning however! You have to be careful using this one with Kindergartners anytime before roughly March of their Kindergarten year because, developmentally, they can have a hard time understanding the vocabulary of asking how many more someone has than someone else. This game is almost like the continuation of Deck o’ Dots Duel, taking the next step by saying, “I have five and you have three. I won because I have five which is more, but how many more?” The language can be tricky, but Deck o’ Dots Difference is a very fun, interactive game to help kids see difference with the counters. It’s also a little different in that, in order to win, students have to have the most counters at the end, instead of the most cards.

You can ramp up Deck o’ Dots Difference into an addition and subtraction game by having students do a double flip, add those numbers together, and then find the difference. Another option for 3rd grade students is to use place value discs (10s and the 1s) instead of the counters in the bank on the game board, making the red dots worth 10 and have students counting on the blue dots. If I added up my sum and had 46, and my partner ended up having 26, they can take out the difference of 20 with the place value discs.

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scatter sandwichMissing addends are the focus of the last two Deck o’ Dots games – Scatter Sandwich and I Wish I Had.

Deck o’ Dots Scatter Sandwich is a two part game that uses the concept of part-part-total. First, students build “sandwiches” of two cards to add up to a certain total. In the second part, kids know the total, but only see one of the parts, and have to guess what’s on the other card, the other part. This can easily be ramped up into a higher level by having kids make a Deck o’ Dots Club sandwich, with three cards. Then, kids will guess the 3rd addend in a problem when given the other two addends and the total.

In Deck o’ Dots I Wish I Had, you might say, “I wish I had nine (or whatever your focus number is) but I only have five.” Kids can use counters to be able to show how they get the other part they are missing to make the number total up to nine.

All of these games have accountability sheets to help kids visually represent part-part-total and the missing parts. We tend to use the number bond format for them to record, which is a nice way for kids to blend into what they may be doing in their classrooms with this concept.

Don’t have our new game boards? Make sure you get them! The Deck o’ Dots Games work with our newly-relaunched Deck o’ Dots, but they can also be used with our previously released deck and are great to use with students of all ages and abilities!

Take it Even Further

Hosting a Parent Night or Math Game Night is a really great way to get families involved in Deck o’ Dots! Because the deck really grows with the child, our Kindergarten families can start off with the red deck, then move on to five in a scatter and so on, but as they get older or even if they have older siblings, that one deck can be used for multiple things in a single house.  

We just recently did a Parent Night in Coopersville Public Schools in Michigan that was a huge success! Strategic Intervention Solutions prepared all of the stations in cooperation with the school and each family (K-2nd) received a Deck o’ Dots deck, game boards and a small bag with 20 counters of two different colors and a set of dice. The evening was invaluable for parents to understand the importance of numeracy and see just how easy it is to incorporate numeracy and strategy games at home! The kids thought it was just fun, they didn’t even realize they were working on vital numeracy skills during this time!

Our newly-released Deck o’ Dots video tutorials are an excellent resource to supplement a night like this. Parents might not completely understand all the things we’re doing in math, but they can watch a step-by-step tutorial to get the basic idea of how to play!

Many of our Parent Nights are funded by Title I money, where 3% of the budget is required to be spent on parent education. We would love to work with your district to host a Parent Night for your school community! Districts pay per family and Strategic Intervention Solutions provides all the materials for the goodie bags, helps get game boards into the hands of parents, delivers professional development to parents – everything you need to make it a success!

Contact us for more information!

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