I should apologise for taking so long to get to this. I confess I have been procrastinating because I have been wondering how I’m going to explain this succinctly in a blog post. I still don’t know but I’ll try. This method was taught to me by FZ who learned it from her daughter who was taught the method at a school in Bandar Utama. The details of the school are listed below.
What I will be explaining in this post is the gist of the methodology. For more information, I urge you to contact the school above. You can also read the google translations of the following articles (pretty crappy translations but I guess some translation is better than none if you can’t read the original Chinese printed text):
There is also a new See’s Math blog that you may want to follow for new updates. Unfortunately, it’s also written in Chinese. The link is to the google-translated page. Again, dreadful translation but better than nothing.
Now onto the basics of the methodology:
Firstly, it would help if you download my powerpoint on SEE’s method for counting from 1 to 100. Go through it and pay careful attention to the pattern of the trains. Ideally, you should do this with a set of 100 Mah Jong chips (which are pretty much like Poker Chips). Any small flat object of uniform size would work as long as you have 100 of them. In fact, counting chips are probably a better idea if you can find them since they are generally cheaper – or at least they are on Amazon.
The purpose of the power point is to show you the order you are supposed to lay out the chips in when you count. I created that power point for Aristotle (hence the Thomas trains) since I didn’t have any chips. Although you can show the power point to your child, I’ve been told that it is more effective to use physical chips than an image on the screen or flash cards. I would agree except for the part where Hercules comes careening along and laying waste to any order and method I try to create.
The depictions of one to ten is represented as follows:
These patterns must always been maintained. For instance, whether you are counting 5, 50 or 500, it will always be represented by the same U-shape pattern:
And 7, 70, and 700 would be represented as follows:
When you are adding, the smaller amount will always be added to the bigger pile. So if you had 4+6, you would first depict 4 and 6 in the patterns shown above, then say: “equals ten” and move the chips from the set of 4 to the set of 6. When subtracting, you always remove the number of chips that are being subtracted and rearrange the remaining chips so they follow the pattern. For instance, if you had 6-2, you would remove the top left chip and the top right chip so that the remaining chips form the upside-down t-shape representing 4.
When you a multiplying, say 5×6, you would set up 5 sets of 6. SEE’s Maths helps your child understand the concept of multiplication because he immediately sees why 5×6 equals 30 – because we’re talking about 5 sets of 6 objects. Initially, you would show your child by laying out the chips in order – 5 sets of 6 chips. Once your child understands the pattern, you can write the number “6” on each chip and set up only one set of chips. Division is similar to multiplication except in reverse.
Is SEE’s Math as effective as the other Math Methods?
Well, FZ, who showed it to me, also showed me her daughter’s workbook and she can calculate some pretty big equations for her age.
The more I think about it, the more it sounds like a right brain concept of teaching Maths. SEE’s Maths initially teach children by showing them physical counters, however, once they understand the basic Math concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, they can do any equation in their head by visualising the patterns of chips in their mind. Since the right brain is all about images and imaging, SEE’s Maths fits in with the profile of right brain Maths. It also explains why FZ’s daughter can work out such large Mathematical calculations in her head so quickly.
So which method would I use to teach Aristotle Math? As much as I like the concept of SEE’s Maths, I have still elected to use Soroban purely because I cannot teach Aristotle a subject that would require me to lay out chips in a pattern on the floor without Hercules charging in and flinging the pieces into every corner of the room or trying to eat them. I learned that the hard way when I was attempting to teach Aristotle the concept of fractions using a Fractions Kit I bought from Borders. Not only did Hercules mess up everything I tried to set up, he also managed to tear the book. When I tried to barricade him off, he screamed blue murder even though I left him a cool box of toys to explore. So I guess this is something we can revisit when Hercules is older.