Math = Love: My New Classroom Pet

## Wednesday, April 3, 2013

### My New Classroom Pet

Throughout elementary school, I only had one experience with a class pet.  The year was fifth grade, and our class had raised enough money to purchase a hamster.  At least, I think it was a hamster.  But, I guess it could have been a guinea pig.  What I do remember, though, is that the animal had one of those wheels in his cage.  And, he loved to run on his wheel.  We also had one of those balls that allowed him to roll around our classroom.  That was always fun, but I'm afraid that we might have spent more time watching where the hamster was going on those days then actually focusing on our work.  I'm sure that the hamster had a name, but I can't seem to remember it.

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.

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 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.

 Monkey Multiplier
For this example, I want to multiply 7 times 9.  To find my answer, I look at the hands of the monkey.

 Monkey Multiplier

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.

1. Wow! What a great find. There use to be a similar one called "Consul the educated monkey". You should google it, it's pretty cool.

2. He is too cute! I will have to find one. He will definitely liven up a classroom!