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Adding on a 120 Chart

Written by Donna Boucher

Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.

A 120 chart is a great tool for supporting addition and subtraction with our younger kiddos, especially as they start to work with larger numbers. I would suggest having kids add and subtract using a 120 chart before teaching them any kind of formal computation. Here’s what I mean by that. Think of adding 34 + 28. Just looking at it, that would be considered a problem that requires regrouping. Using the traditional algorithm, you’d add the 4 ones to the 8 ones, getting 12 ones. You’d need to regroup 1 ten to the tens column. Pretty complicated!!

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Now, look at the 120 chart below and think of how you would use the 120 chart to solve 34 + 28. I’ll give you a minute…

Chances are, you used something similar to one of these methods:

  • Start on the number 34.  Count on 28 to get to 62.
  • Start on the number 34.  Jump down two rows to 54.  Count on 8 more to get to 62.
  • Start on the number 34.  Jump down one ten to 44 and another ten to 54.  Add 6 to get to 60.  Add another 2 to get to 62.
  • Start on the number 34.  Jump down three rows to 64.  Come back 2 to 62.
  • Start on the number 34.  Move ahead 6 o get to 40.  Jump down two rows to get to 60.  Move another 2 to get to 62.
  • Start on the number 34.  Count on 8 more to get to 42.  Jump down two rows to get to 62.

If you have even a different way, I hope you’ll leave a comment and describe it. Are any of these ways wrong?  NO!  I would argue that counting on 28 is not efficient, but it’s not wrong. What’s important is that, just like I’ve done here, you let your kiddos share their strategies with the rest of the class. I would literally have them come up to a large 120 chart and point to what they did as they describe it. Hopefully, your friend who counts on 28 will find a new, more efficient strategy to try.

Click here to grab your own ghostly 120 chart. 🙂

16 Comments

  1. Elizabeth

    I agree with Alison. Seeing the repeating after 100 is so important. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Elizabeth

    Fun in Room 4B

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Exactly! ‘120 Chart’ doesn’t roll off your tongue quite like hundred chart does, though. Ha ha. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Alison Hislop

    Hi Donna,

    I added 30 then took away 2, as described. Thanks for sharing it with a 120 chart – I like using a 120 chart so children can see the pattern repeating after 100.

    Alison
    Teaching Maths with Meaning

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Nice to hear from my friend from Down Under!! The new Common Core Standards here in the US are all about the 120 Chart. I agree that it’s a good change. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Nancy VandenBerge

    Donna,
    You inspire me with every post. Thank you for your dedication to kids and to teachers!!
    Nancy

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      My pleasure. I may not be done with the little ghosties yet… 🙂

      Reply
  4. Linda

    Thank you so much for sharing this Donna! This is just what I needed! I’ve begun introducing the compensation strategy to my second graders using a number line and it’s been rough going for many. I quickly realized that I needed to back up and lay more of a foundation and this is it!

    I look forward to your posts each day and share them with my teammates! They have been a tremendous help to me in clarifying and adjusting to Common Core! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge!
    Linda
    AroundtheKampfire

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Linda, so glad that the post came just at the right time for you!! Thank you so much for your sweet, sweet comments. Consider my bucket filled. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Beverley Baird

    Love this! What a great sheet!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Thanks so much, Beverley!

      Reply
  6. Amanda Werhan

    SO EXCITED to see your post about this. I have been a huge proponent of our students needing to use and be familiar with the hundreds chart (although the 120 chart makes even more sense). I attending a workshop from a lady named Wendy Hill who created a life size carpet with the grid for the hundreds chart and did amazing things with it. It’s called the Learning carpet if you want to google it. Anyway, I made a homemade version out of canvas drop cloth and used duct tape to make the grids. We printed off number cards and the kids do the same strategies for learning the carpet as usual, only they get to use their whole body for it. It has had amazing results, so far. Explaining their strategies for finding a number on the chart has also been great practice for their verbalizing their understanding. I can send you pix if you’d like to see it. Eventually, I pull the carpet away from them and go to regular grids. I was so excited to see you post this, because I am a HUGE fan and I am always in awe that you are able to do so much and so willing to share with everyone. Thank you for all you do. 🙂

    Reply
  7. Amanda Werhan

    Oops, It’s me again. I just realized you already have the Learning Carpet in your “you may also like these” section. Soooo, never mind, you are already familiar with her amazing carpet. 🙂

    Reply
  8. Tammy

    That’s a great idea. I love the message it sends, that there are so many different ways to find a solution to a math problem. I love that kids get to be the math teacher and “teach” everyone how they got their answer. They learn so much from each other. This activity fits perfectly in my classroom. Thanks.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

    Reply
  9. Debra Cashman

    Maybe we should start celebrating the 120th day instead of the 100th day in honor of ccss…lol. Just kidding 🙂 the 100th day is way too fun…but my 1st grade kids do love counting past 100. It makes them feel so smart! On a side note…I always had them do that in all the years I’ve taught 1st grade…this isn’t something new I do just because ccss says so now…just saying — good teachers have taught good things even before the standards said so!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      120th Day just doesn’t roll off the tongue! Ha ha. Nice that the standards are finally catching up to what great teachers have known all along. 🙂

      Reply

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