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Joining and Separating Equal Groups
Focus Joining and separating equal groups of blocks
and making connections between these actions

J

ust like addition and subtraction, multiplication and division are a way of thinking about joining and separating groups. This initial exploration with single blocks exposes children to these two actions and the relationship between them.

® Joining Equal Groups of Blocks
For the process of joining equal groups of blocks, children know both the number of groups and the number in each group. They model the groups with the blocks and then find the number in all. Have children work in pairs with single blocks and empty holders. Ask the children to make 3 groups of 5 blocks. When the children have arranged these groups, ask,

How many blocks are there altogether?
Many children will count the single blocks or pack them and count. Some children might skip count by fives to 15. Have them demonstrate their techniques to one another. Repeat with additional examples, changing the number of groups and the number in each group. For the last example, have the children record their work on paper using drawings, the Digi-Block stamps, or words. Provide time for children to share their recordings.

® Separating Equal Groups of Blocks
For the process of separating blocks, children know the total number of blocks. If they also know the number of groups, then they find the number in each group. If they know the number in each group, they find the number of groups. These are two different ways to model division. Have children work in pairs with single blocks. Ask them to take 12 blocks, then make groups of 3 with those 12 blocks. When they have arranged the blocks, ask,

What did you do with the blocks? How many groups are there?

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After the children have described the process (starting with 12 blocks and separating groups of 3), ask,

If we put these blocks together again, how many will there be?
Do not be surprised if the children don’t immediately recognize the answer of 12. They need many opportunities to join and separate equal groups to understand this inverse relationship. Finally, have the children model a situation in which they know the total and the number of groups, but not how many in each group. For example, have them take 10 blocks and put them in 5 equal groups. When they have arranged the blocks, ask,

What did you do with the blocks? How many blocks are there in each group?
After the children have described the process and their thinking, ask,

If you put the blocks back together, how many will there be?
Repeat with additional examples, always asking how many there would be if the blocks were combined again.

Practicing Key Ideas
Making Equal Groups
Children work in pairs. They roll a die to determine the number of groups. Then they find the total when they place first 1 block in each group, then 2 blocks, 3 blocks, and finally 4 blocks. They can record their work in a table.

Separating 12
Children count out 12 blocks and explore how the blocks can be separated into equal groups. Children should record each way they find using pictures, stamps, or words.

Assessing Learning
1. Ask the child to make 4 groups of 2 blocks and find the total number of blocks. Does the child • make the groups correctly? • find the correct total?

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2. Ask the child to put 14 blocks in 2 equal groups and tell the number in each group. When the child has arranged the groups, ask,

If you put the groups back together, how many blocks will there be?
Does the child • make the groups correctly? • find the correct total? • identify the number of recombined blocks without appearing to count? 3. Ask the child to take 18 blocks and make groups of 6. When the child has arranged the groups, ask,

If you put the groups back together, how many blocks will there be?
Does the child • make the groups correctly? • find the correct total? • identify the number of recombined blocks without appearing to count?

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