The learner plays this game with the calculator ... An adult is needed to help introduce the activity.
When used as described, this is one of the most powerful calculator activities we know. Once learnt, it needs to be used for 15-20 minutes, at least three times a week for several weeks. Any assisting adult should try very hard to let the calculator do the correcting, rather than telling the child their prediction is wrong.
The process of guess/write/check/correct continues as far as the child can go.
Learning From ExperienceQuite often with this example, the first time the calculator contradicts the learner is the next count after 100. Children often predict it is 200.
Let the calculator do the correcting. Then they put a line through the 200 and write 110 as the calculator has written. Your role is to encourage the learner to look back at the developing pattern and encourage them to use that information to predict the one after 110 and then keep going.
Keep insisting that they only need to make a guess - the calculator will tell them if their guess is right or wrong. This private reinforcement and correction is very powerful. Insisting on writing the guess, and ticking and crossing it, is a vital management strategy. It is particularly useful if a child pushes the wrong buttons (which they will know) or accidentally clears their calculator. After consultation you need only suggest the child re-enters the last correct response, teaches the calculator to count again, and continues.
These photos are from Bradley, Year 2. In the first week of school he learnt Predict A Count using the example above. What the teacher didn't know was that he loved it so much he kept working on it at home. In the second week of school he brought in 13 pages of Predict A Count to show the new teacher what he had done. The left photo shows the first page where he continued counting from 580, which was where he got up to at school. Notice that at the end of this page he successful 'crosses over' 1000. The right photo shows that he went as far as 10,000.
Just Before You FinishSometimes when time is up for this activity ask the child to look back at the data and see what they notice. Then they record a sentence or two about what they notice. If the child is very young, you write what they say.
VariationsIt is the variations based on the mathematician's question What happens if ...? which make this activity so adaptable to a wide range of ages - even adults.
Answers & DiscussionThese notes were originally written for teachers. We have included them to support parents to help their child learn from Predict A Count.