Anyway, back to the wheel. Our class hamster soon tired of just running on his wheel. So, he decided to learn a new trick. He would learn to balance on top of his wheel. Looking back, he was probably more interested in escaping than balancing... But, balancing on top of a circular wheel is harder than you would think. I guess I've never tried it myself, but it was really difficult for our hamster. Every day, the hamster would climb on top of the wheel and fall off. Climb on top of the wheel and fall off. Over and over and over.
Finally, one day our hamster stopped climbing on top of the wheel. We blamed his death on the fact that he had taken too many hits to the head from falling off of the wheel.
Why am I telling you this story? I'm not really sure. All I really wanted to do was tell you about a cool new gadget that I got for my classroom. But, then I had to think of a creative title. I started thinking about classroom pets, and here we are. Sorry for the tangent...
Without further ado, meet my Monkey Multiplier.
My parents picked up this nifty thing at a thrift store for $1.49. Here's how he works. Move the monkey's toes to rest on the two numbers you wish to multiply. If you want to square a number, place one toe on the number and one toe on the square on the far right.
For this example, I want to multiply 7 times 9. To find my answer, I look at the hands of the monkey.
Mr. Monkey has correctly identified 63 as the correct answer.
Even though I teach high school, my students are still mesmerized by this toy. I have even had students borrow it to help with an assignment instead of using a calculator. It's also helped spark some great conversations about how it works.
When my students leave my classroom, I hope they will agree that a) math is doable and b) math can be a lot of fun.