Doodle is my middle son. He’s 8 and has a recent autism diagnosis. I mean, I always knew he was different and learned differently, but now we have a label for it. Autism. It’s a post for a different day, but it’s been the most amazing blessing to be able to look at him and my home and my parenting and say to myself, you know what? This is Autism.
He’s always been the most incredible kid. Learning started as a struggle for him, and for me as his teacher. It took time for me to figure out that he learns with his whole body. He learns with his hands. He learns by fiddling, and doing, and creating. Teaching with manipulatives has become so much more than just a preference in our home- it’s become a necessity.
You can imagine how excited I was when Intooba reached out to us- they sent me a whole box of manipulatives, and they have become an instant favorite in our home. Before I dig into the meat of the lesson I want to share with you today, I want to explain just what these are. Intooba manipulatives are BIG. Gloriously big. Doodle struggles with motor skills, and big rods and connectors make it so much easier for him to participate.
Our Intooba set came with a curriculum pack with tons of wonderful ideas for grades K-6 to use the manipulatives across our curriculum. For this particular lesson, we used a plan for the third grade. Doodle has been learning a lot about money lately- mostly how to earn it, and how to spend it on the things he “really, really, really NEEDS” (i.e. Pokemon cards, and Leg0s).
To start the lesson, I pulled out the big box of Intooba pieces and dumped them out for all the kids. I let them have some free play time to get out their wiggles and explore the pieces and how they fit together. I wanted them to have a chance to see what their options were for connecting them together.
It’s not all that often that all four kids become engrossed in an activity, but all the kids loved playing with their Intooba set. After a while, we began the formal lesson. I explained to the kids that each piece had a value. They were going to need to “buy” their pieces to build the items they wanted to build. The shorter pieces were less expensive than the larger pieces, and the connectors were the most expensive part yet!
I had each of the kids build a “piece of furniture” out of their Intooba pieces. They were supposed to use 15 (or less) pieces for their creation. Doodle chose to build a slide, because “a slide in the house would be so cool” and at his calculation, it would cost him less than 5 dollars to put the whole thing together!
Bug, his older brother, chose to build a chair. It took exactly 15 pieces but cost closer to 10 dollars to build. Once the kids made their first creations, I explained to them that the challenge was now to build a different piece of furniture for half the cost.
Bug really took to this challenge. He was able to build a smaller scale replica of the original chair he built- it was small enough to fit within the seat of the first chair! It was fun to see him calculating the cost of his new creation, and celebrating when he pulled it off and was able to create a chair at half the side.
We then sat down and discussed how this sort of thing happens all the time in the real world. I told the kids about the table their Dad and I built last year. I wanted so badly to have a nice, big farmhouse table. The kind that would seat a whole dozen people if I wanted. Unfortunately, a professionally built table of this size was way out of my budget, so we took the time to find plans for a similar table, and invested in wood that cost about half of the original. We poured our time and energy in to the table, and now it’s my most favorite piece of furniture- it’s made doubly special because we took the time to problem solve.
I love that this lesson had real life applications. It combined an engineering challenge with a math problem. It allowed the kids to get creative, while also thinking about the practicality of their design. Doodle, who doesn’t always enjoy sitting down to a lesson, much less working through math problems happily calculated the cost of his creations as long as he was allowed to continue to CREATE. It was wonderful to watch him learn without him even realizing this was a lesson. This is just ONE lesson of many that Intooba provided to our family. There are many more ways for us to use this manipulative set, and I am sure we’ll be sharing more of them on the blog in the future!
Now, I hate to share new resources without a GIVEAWAY!! Intooba was gracious enough to offer a set to one lucky blog reader- enter to win using the widget below and get a set to use in your home or classroom!
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