Hey teaching friends! I know so many of you are intermediate teachers and I don’t always have items to review that are applicable to you, but when I saw this, I immediately thought of you! As a former 3rd-6th grade teacher, I know from personal experience how hair-raising teaching metric conversions can get! It is not a topic that is easy to model other than on paper. When I saw the Magnetic Metric Staircase from Educational Insights, I knew that this was finally something that could be used as a hands-on manipulative to teach metric conversions!
Check it out! First, you take the magnetic-backed staircase and stick it up on your whiteboard. (Just for the record, the magnet on the back is good and magnet-y – I so just made up that word – so it really sticks well to your board and doesn’t fall down.)
Then, you get 2 extra pieces that are thick foam and have magnet backs as well: a cat and a shoe.
Take the cat and place it somewhere on the steps. Then, decide which unit you are converting to and place the shoe.
Last, the students will then count how many “steps” it would take for the cat to get to the shoe and then either multiple or divide by 10 as evidenced by the arrow below.
It really is a great visual for those that just “don’t get it” on paper. Bonus? No batteries or technology needed! That extra image may be the little trick that will have it all make sense. Here is an example for you listed on the instruction guide that EI provides in the package:
1 cm = _____ mm
Put the cat on the cent- step and the shoe on the milli- step.
Ask students, “How many steps must the cat walk to get to the shoe?” (answer: 1)
“Does the cat need to walk up or down the stairs to get to the shoe?” (answer: down)
“What operation must you perform when you move down the staircase?” (answer: multiplication)
1 x 10 = 10, so 1 cm = 10 mm!
You can also use the visual to show how many times they need to move the decimal point to the right or left if that is a shortcut they are ready for as well. Educational Insights has included a several pages of sample problems and printable worksheets with visuals of the stairs to use when you are working with this item too, which is super handy. It even includes examples for multistep problems, which we all know can get crazy at times!
Do you have a great way to teach metric conversions? We would love any and all ideas in the comments below! And if you are interested in winning your very own Magnetic Metric Staircase from EI, get entered below! Good luck to all those who enter from Educational Insights and The Organized Classroom Blog!