Equal Heights = Equal Value
Paradise, UT 84328
by Emerson Sandow
It is hard to believe that someone could come up with a new and exciting way to help young children learn the basic concepts of number sense, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – even working with fractions, but such is the case with David Skagg’s SumBlox!
If you go to the website, you will see exactly what they are and why there are called SumBlox – they are sturdy, attractive wooden blocks in the shape of various numbers from 0 to 10 and in varying sizes, so that certain numbers stacked atop each other are as high as others alone. For instance, two 5’s stacked are the same height as 10; 7 and 3 = 10, 8 and 2 = 10. You see? This pattern is carried throughout the entire set, allowing the child to learn the concepts and actions while playing.
It is common knowledge that it only takes 10 to 12 repetitions of a thing to begin to imprint the brain when that repetition is in the form of play. This makes SumBlox incredibly powerful as a young child math instruction tool.
The Teacher’s Guide suggests introducing the child to SumBlox by giving him/her a period of free play to just enjoy the blocks without any meaning attached to them. Then, the parent can begin to work through the Addition/Subtraction information in that Guide. Besides the numerals, there are wooden bars that can be used to represent the number that corresponds to the numeral. This teaches basic number sense by showing the child that the numeral “5” is the symbol representing five of the bars, and ultimately, five of anything. It is easy to see how in a very short time the young child will learn this number sense and it will function as his/her foundation for future math work.
The story behind the invention of SumBlox is enthralling itself. David Skaggs, the creator, was tutoring children in math. David was working with one particular student could not maintain attention for more than 10 minutes no matter what approach David used – games of all sorts, including the iPad. It occurred to David that he stacks numbers that equal 10 in his head when he is doing math and that maybe teaching his student to stack the numbers that equal 10 would help him. David cut out the prototype SumBlox in his dad’s garage and took them back to his tutoring site. Voila! The student “got it” using the stacked numerals to work out fraction problems and SumBlox was born. David tested his blox out on a few classes and at the end of the school year, developed a curriculum with the help of an experienced 4th grade teacher. Now David’s unique invention and curriculum can help your child develop basic math skills and knowledge and have a great time doing it! Visit the website and see for yourself how SumBlox work! E.S.