Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Sumblox - A Multisensory Resource for Learning Maths

I am always on the look out for great learning resources that encourage and support hands-on learning especially when it comes to maths. The use of manipulative resources provide the learner with a multisensory learning experience and this has been proven by research to be the most effective way to acquire knowledge and skills on a deeper level of understanding. So you can imagine my excitement when I came across these multisensory, wooden number blocks called Sumblox. Krystal from Sweet Elephants introduced me to Sumblox last year and I want to share with you how awesome these wooden number blocks are. 


What are Sumblox?
Sumblox is a set of 43 solid hardwood beech blocks that are beautiful crafted. These numbered building blocks are uniquely shaped and sized to teach a range of maths concepts such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and fractions as well as problem solving, symmetry and creative play. This resource is aimed at learners between the ages of 2-11 years however I'm sure that older learners and special needs learners would benefit greatly from these blocks. 


Early Number Learning
For early learners, Sumblox offers an unique prospective for learning early maths concepts. Each number block varies in size according to their value making the number block gradually getting bigger depending on their value. This gives the learner a deeper understanding on numbers and supports self-correction as well as independent learning. Other early number concepts that these blocks help teach include:
  • number recognition and identification as they learn the names of each number
  • number value when ordering numbers from smallest to biggest 
  • number ordering using before and after
  • counting both forwards to ten and backwards to one
  • making new larger numbers such as teens and tens


Addition and Subtraction
Just as the size of the blocks assist learners in their early number discoveries, it also supports the development of problem solving skills when looking at addition and subtraction. Adding two number blocks together, or stacking them on top of each other, the learner will be able work out the answer of their sum by comparing the height of bigger blocks while self-correct. The same thing can be done for subtraction but in reverse, such as eight take away five equals three, just like a turn-around sum!


As learners grow and advance in their understanding of addition and subtraction, adding or subtracting three or even four numbers together can be done using Sumblox.


Other ways to learn about addition and subtraction can be done by exploring the different number combinations that add to ten, or numbers that add to eight or whatever number you would like to focus on. Learners are able to use the self-correcting blocks to solve the sum which builds confidence in their own ability as a learner.


I found this beautiful little addition to eight set up of our Sumblox next to our window. My daughter, who is 6 years old, has really grasped the concept of addition using these blocks and loves building them with our Rainbow Blocks too.


Multiplication
The first steps to introducing multiplication to learners starts with skip counting followed by making "groups of". Both of these early concepts can be supported with Sumblox. Stacking the blocks on top of each other to make three groups of two will or 3X3 you can easily work out the answer.  



I absolutely love the unique size value of Sumblox as it really supports working with larger multiplication numbers too. You can see the multiplication 3X7 and the stacked blocks will equal to 21 and this can be self checked by looking at the height. 



Creative Play
Sumblox offers learners of all ages a new prospective on problem solving through open-ended play. Although these blocks are shaped like numbers they are also really great for supporting creative play. Constructing and building towers, bridges or even fences in an imaginary story encourages learning through play.


Even while play learners are exploring maths concepts. My son (10 years old) loves using Sumblox to build towers and after some experimenting, he noted that for him the strongest and most stable towers were the ones that were built using a line of symmetry. Meanwhile, my daughter who is 4 years old, likes to create imaginary worlds so she used Sumblox as a fence for her little animals. However, while she was constructing her fence I could hear her chatting to herself as she named each number as she placed them down for her fence. Learning through play!


Each set of Sumblox comes with an activity card that has instructions on how to play two games, one called the Tower of 10, which looks at combination of numbers to ten, and the other called Sumblox Bridges. Both these games teach the different maths concepts that can be done in a group situation. So this is perfect for any classroom, homeschool group or at home with your kids. You can see an example of both these games on YouTube.
 

The learning opportunities are endless with Sumblox as they also support the learning of measurement (length, height and weight of blocks) and even fractions! So if you are interested in acquiring a set of Sumblox for your learners you can find them at Sweet Elephants online store

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