Mathematics is all about patterns. Some describe mathematics as the science of patterns, and the ability to understand patterns is described as a key concept in NCTM‘s algebra standard.

I didn’t like math growing up.  Now, it fascinates me almost to the point of obsession, and I attribute that to two things: (1) I now understand the math behind the procedures I was taught, and (2) I see the patterns that were never pointed out to me before.

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Since I love patterns, it should be no surprise that I am a big fan of hundred charts. The classic +1, -1, +10, and -10 pattern of a hundred chart is fundamental to a conceptual understanding of place value.  So you can imagine my delight a couple of weeks ago when I saw that the remediation program my district uses had a hundred chart lesson for my 2nd graders.  A lesson.  As in one.  That might have been fine, but I quickly found out that my struggling second graders did not see any of the patterns in the hundred chart that I hold so near and dear.

Enter Hundred Chart Bootcamp!  We have spent two weeks exploring the hundred chart inside and out.  Some of the students picked up the patterns right away, but others just couldn’t see them.  It was fascinating to me.  Here are some things I tried.

Humpty Dumpty Hundred Charts

This activity involves students putting together the pieces of a cut up hundreds chart, like a puzzle, to make the complete chart.  This is a great formative assessment!  Watch as the students put it together. Do they know that the smaller numbers are at the top of the puzzle and the larger ones at the bottom?  Do they look for the multiples of ten for the right-hand side of the puzzle?  How easy or difficult is this task for them?  You can read more and download your own free Humpty Dumpty charts from this blog post.

Missing Numbers on a Pocket Hundred Chart

A pocket hundred chart is a must-have tool.  You can use it to isolate the numbers in a given row or column, which makes the patterns easier for students to see.  They now actually sell the pocket charts that extend to 120, so students can see that the patterns go on past 100.

Hundred Chart Masks

This activity came from the book It Makes Sense: Using the Hundreds Chart to Build Number Sense, by Melissa Conklin and Stephanie Sheffield.  These masks are groups of squares, which contain question marks, that are cut from a hundred chart.  Students lay them over the hundred chart and try to determine the numbers that are covered.  Because the rest of the numbers on the chart are visible, students can be successful with this activity, even if they are not yet sure of the hundred chart patterns.  I created a recording sheet for the students to record their numbers, so they could then see the groups of numbers away from the rest of the hundred chart. I think that helps them to recognize the patterns more easily.  You can download the recording sheet a little further down in this post.

Hundred Chart Puzzles

Once students understand the patterns on the hundred chart, they are able to work puzzles such as the ones shown.  This set, from my To 100 and Beyond: Hundred Charts to 1000 unit, takes the patterns all the way up to 1000.  I have the cards laminated, and students use wipe-off markers to complete them.  I still have some students that do not 100% own the patterns, so I created a card they can use as a reminder.

Click here to download the patterns card (shown above) and the recording sheets for the mask activity.  Enjoy!

Update: be sure to check out this post for an easy hundred chart assessment.

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