The Miracle of Combination Dot Cards

We’ve definitely had our struggles with math this year, among other things. And though I nearly switched math curriculums mid-year, I discovered that what I really needed was not so much a new approach as a few added resources.

The journey

After a few hours on the internet one afternoon (following a particularly frustrating morning of math), lots of research and reading, and a phone call to a classical education curriculum representative, I finally concluded that the answer was not as “simple” as switching curriculums. I believed in the method of memorizing over “learn by doing” when it came to math, and rather than switch to another curriculum that stressed drill and repetition, I decided I’d stick with what was hailed as the ultimate in drill and repetition (i.e. A Beka Book).

But I knew that I did need something to make my A Beka math work better. My epiphany—flashcards. As in, the ones the curriculum recommends but that I was too cheap to buy. But I will say, that even after my epiphany I was too cheap to buy them new. Instead, I scoured Amazon and eBay. And prayed.

The search

I lost out on several eBay bids (I hate bidding on eBay) before resorting to a “buy it now” item and a couple of Amazon deals. Overall, I still saved nearly $50 buying used flashcards. And—oh!—what a worthy investment.

My favorite have been the Combination Dot Cards, the ones I thought would be a definite “over-spend” at the beginning of the year. These cards are ingenious, even bordering on the miraculous. The cards themselves are akin to giant dominoes with dots on each half of the card. The student reads the card as an addition problem based on how you are holding it.

For instance, if you have three dots on top and 2 on bottom, the child says “3+2=5.”  Then, you turn the card so that the 2 dots are now on top and the three dots are on bottom, and the child says “2+3=5.” You can also do the same thing by holding the cards horizontally and reading left to right. The cards can be used for subtraction as well, but we’re not there yet.



The success

The cards address the exact problems that my son was encountering. First, just learning the addition families was giving him some trouble. But even more difficult for him was reversing the numbers in a combination. Once he learned 1+2 he would still be utterly stumped at 2+1.

My son’s reaction to his new cards— all smiles. (As well as a possessive “that’s mine” when his sister came to take a look; which of course resulted in Sister’s rebuttal of “no, it’s mine,”and Mommy intervening with “Actually, they’re mine.”) And I’m so thankful I get to share.