One very special piece of maths equipment that I like to use in my classroom is the 'Treasure Chest'.
Our Treasure Chest is stocked with organza bags filled with treasure. Each bag contains exactly ten pieces of treasure. I keep our treasure in a cane basket, but I would love a proper treasure chest, just like a real pirate's treasure chest. (I will have to keep my eye out for one!)
I tried to provide a range of treasure to stimulate the children's senses and give them a variety of sensory experiences; smell, sight, sound, and touch.
I used bells, mirrors, shells, stones, glass nuggets, marbles, several types of different beads, buttons, mirrors, wooden objects like; pegs, popsicle sticks, and scented balls.
When we use it I encourage the children to choose a bag of treasure that appeals the most to them. Some kids have their favourites, others like to choose a different bag each time. I love the thought and care that goes into their choice, they take their decision very seriously.
We have spent lots of time talking about how our Treasure Chest is special and how to use careful and gentle hands. When we have finished using our treasure, we take care to count each piece of treasure as we place it back into its bag, and then close the bag carefully.
Our Treasure Chest is a great piece of versatile maths equipment. I have found many uses for it.
- As each bag contains 10 pieces of treasure it reinforces skip-counting in tens. I use it to give a concrete and visual way of counting in 10's, both forwards and backwards.
- We use it to model the value of tens and ones. 36 is the same as 3 treasure bags of ten (3 tens) and 6 more pieces of treasure (6 ones).
- We use it for addition and subtraction practice, with either one bag each to 10 (6+3). Or adding 'ty' numbers like 30+40.
- Mixing up some of the bags and then sorting and grouping the treasure, they can be sorted into their own bags again or sets based on attributes; wood, metal, glass, natural, colours, or the senses they stimulate.