Focus on Math

Helping children become mathematicians!

Math Art: Breaking Apart Numbers December 8, 2011

Filed under: General Math — Focus on Math @ 3:51 pm
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math art 999In looking for a math-related art project that could be displayed on the hall bulletin board, I found this activity on the internet. Although the author (Zachary Brewer) lists this as an activity for adding numbers to equal 999, I believe it is more focused on breaking 999 apart into four components. Breaking numbers apart is a very important thing for students to be able do and understand. John Van de Walle says this about whole-part-part relationships: “To conceptualize a number as being made up of two or more parts is the most important relationship that can be developed about numbers” (Van de Walle & Folk, Elementary and Middle School Mathematics, Can. Ed., 2005, p.98) .

Brewer shows pictures of his art activities on his website and offers a book with templates for all the projects. I have not yet purchased the book with the templates, but, being in a hurry, just created the necessary bits and pieces myself for students to do the activity.

I created a page with the base-10 representations on it: 9-100 grid squares, 9 “ten strips” and 9 tiny ones blocks. I also created a page that has the number 999 in a box along with four blank boxes in which the students would write the numbers that they broke 999 into.

Because I have short blocks with my Wednesday math classes, I prepared the 12″ x “18” pieces of construction paper for the students by drawing two black diagonal lines, creating four spaces on each sheet.

Each student received:

  • a large piece of construction with diagonals marked
  • a page with 999 in base-10 representation (download my version here)*** I have changed this from a .tif to .pdf — it works better now!
  • a small sheet of boxes, one with 999 in it and four to fill in. (download my version here)

Students also needed:

  • four different light-coloured markers, highlighters, or pencil crayons (all work well)
  • a pair of scissors
  • a glue stick

Students were instructed to colour the base-10 page using exactly four colours. They choose the number of 100’s, 10’s and 1’s to colour with each particular colour. They were also to colour one blank “number box” to match each colour they were using on the base-10 representation sheet.

Once all the colouring was done, students cut out the base-10 pieces and glued them onto the construction paper, one colour per section. The blank number boxes were also cut out and glued on with their appropriate colour partners. Each box was then marked with the number that was represented in that particular section. The number box with 999 on it was left white and glued on at the intersection of the lines.

The project produced a great visual representation of breaking apart the 999 into four parts.

I created a modification of the original project by choosing to have one class split 500 into two parts. Students were given a piece of 9″ x 12″ construction paper divided in half with a vertical line. The piece of paper with the base-10 representation for colouring had 4-100 grids, 9-10 sticks, and 10-units blocks.

The click here for a link to Brewer’s webpage where you can view this project and his other art projects. Keep in mind that, although he lists them for grades 2,3, and 4, topics may correlate to other grades as well. For instance, his visual representation of square numbers would be appropriate for any class working with that concept.

My classes enjoyed the activity and the bulletin board looks great!
Mathematically yours,