I talk a LOT about teaching using the concrete–>representational–>abstract (CRA) sequence of instruction. Since I’m often involved in remediation, I see the results of kiddos who are rushed to the abstract stage too quickly, so that is a big focus of mine.
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I think the best way to illustrate what’s meant by the CRA sequence of instruction is with an example. First grade has been working on addition with 3 addends, and this is an activity I developed for them.
First, students use teddy bear counters (concrete). Place red, blue, and yellow teddy bear counters into a paper bag or other container that is not transparent. Students reach in a grab a handful or two of teddy bear counters. They count and record the number of each color bear, write the number sentence, and find the total of the bears.
Next, they use ten-frames (representational). For this activity, you should download and print these student ten-frame kits. You might want to copy them on cardstock, cut them apart, and laminate them. Students take three of the ten-frame cards, show the number from each ten-frame by coloring dots on the recording sheet, write the number sentence, and find the total.
Finally, they use number cubes with the digits (abstract), not dice with pips. For this version, students roll three dice, record the numbers they rolled, write a number sentence, and find the total. Use standard dice (1-6) or ten-sided dice (0-9), depending on your students’ needs.
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