I never really understood what Pokémon were until I saw a young friend of mine playing the game – and watched him manipulating large numbers effortlessly… So I decided to use the context of the game to help grades 2 and 3 students work with number sense and operations to 100 and to 1000.
Here’s what I did.
First I created some visuals for the kids. I printed images found on the internet – some of the cutest of the Pokémon characters – and put them on the board. Then I attached prices to each of the characters: 17¢, 13¢, 20¢, 31¢ and 59¢. I asked the kids which one they would like to buy, and everyone certainly had an opinion! Next, I told the children that they had $1, or 100¢ to spend at my store, and that they could buy any Pokémon they wanted to – or even combinations of characters. I asked them to find as many ways as they could to spend their money.
I laughed when I saw how energetically the children attacked the task, buying singles, combinations and multiples of the characters. Some even volunteered how much money they had left after they had done their purchasing – a nice extension for those who are ready.
While we debriefed, we talked about their strategies for choosing and combining the prices. There were many interesting ideas shared around adding tens then ones, and using doubles…
We also used this context to practice finding the difference or the missing part. I gave children 9¢ to spend at my store and told them they could choose any Pokémon character they wanted – IF they could tell me how much MORE money they needed to buy that particular one. In effect, we were solving these problems: 9¢ + ∆ = 17¢, 9¢ + ∆ = 31, etc. Children used number lines to show how much more they needed to get to the desired cost. The idea of adding up through tens came across over and over…
For Grade 3’s, I worked with the 3-digit numbers. We assigned a point value to each of the Pokémon characters (either 250, 125, 75, 400 or 325) and I challenged the children to match – but to not exceed – my total of 1000 points using cards from their “deck”. The strategies once again were great, and focussed largely on the 100’s – a brilliant use of front-end addition.
PS – Thanks, Mason!