Don’t you just LOVE it when you get to go to a teacher training that is absolutely wonderful?!  I’m not talking about fun and engaging.  I’m talking about the kind where you don’t get up to use the bathroom (even if you really need to) because you’re afraid you’ll miss something.  Well, that was my day last Tuesday!

The last math workshop I attended was dismal.  Imagine being a kid in a math environment where you didn’t feel safe enough to contribute to the discussion and cringed every time the teacher pulled a name stick.  That was exactly what it was like.  Now, I must confess to having a great love of math.  I just can’t help myself.  I’ve always loved it.  But I hated that workshop!

This one was completely different.  The presenter, Chris Goad, was a retired teacher.  Enthusiasm for teaching math seemed to just ooze from her.  It was impossible not to catch her enthusiasm.  There were even teachers who headed to the nearest dollar store on the lunch break to buy supplies for manipulatives she showed us!  And no, I wasn’t one of them.  I waited until after the training was over for the day.  🙂

I am so excited about all the new teaching techniques now bouncing around my head that I just HAD to share them with you.  The technique I’m going to share with you uses a Bead String.


wide, flat shoe strings (approximately 12 inches per Bead String)

two different colors of pony beads (10 beads of each color)


Tie a knot in the end of one shoe string.  Lace 10 beads of one color and 10 beads of another color onto the string.  Tie a knot in the other end of the shoe string.  Ta-Da!  That’s it, folks!

Now for the good stuff.  How it WORKS!

Once the kids know combinations of 10s, they will be able to solve addition facts through 10+10, quickly using a Bead String.  The Bead String will give them confidence and increase their number sense skills to help them make the transition to more abstract math.  Give a kid a Bead String and tell them a math problem, say 7 plus 5.  Now, you could just say 7 and 5 for those kids just beginning.  They count 7 beads, leave a space, and then count the next 5.

Then the kids make the number “friendly”.  Basically, they change it into something that is easier for their brains to work with.  They slide the rest of the numbers that match the first color to join the rest, making a ten.  From that, it is very easy for them to visually see what the answer is!

 My biggest little is in first grade, so, of course I made him one just to practice play math at home.  (I made his with glow-in-the-dark beads!)  I can’t wait to use these with my fifth grade students who are struggling with number sense.  I may only use them for about 15 minutes, but if it helps them gain number sense, it will be well worth it!!!

What is your favorite math tip or trick?




One thought on “A Fantabulous Math Workshop…and BEAD STRINGS!”

Comments are closed.