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Ho Math Chess Research and Articles > Ho Math and Chess Invents Dotted Arabic Numerals to Teach Children How to Add or Subtract

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29 Dec 2007

Using Dotted Arabic Numerals to Teach Children How to Add or Subtract

Frank Ho

Founder and Teacher of Ho Math and Chess Learning Center


Children especially at kindergarten or preschool learn how to add or subtract by starting using concrete objects, only after they have understood the concept are they ready to move in to using the Arabic numerals to do abstract work.

Some children move smoothly from playing manipulatives such as blocks, stickers, counters etc. concrete objects to abstract symbols and the connection from concrete objects to abstract symbols is frequently successful. Children normally do better by using nonsymbolic arithmetic such as counting on dots to figure out the total than actually adding Arabic numerals. Some children do not seem to make the transition from counting the concrete objects to Arabic numerals smoothly but they could use dots to do arithmetic very well, so is there a link between the nonsymbolic arithmetic and Arabic numerals such that more children can make the transition more smoothly? Ho Math and Chess invented Dotted Arabic numerals to make the transition and connection from counting concrete objects to adding and subtracting of Arabic numerals an effective means of connection.

The Arabic numerals are enhanced to train children to learn adding or subtracting by counting dots (or adding numbers to dots such as 7 or 9) marked on Arabic numerals. The advantage is that the number of dots on each Arabic numeral is totally linked to each abstract Arabic numeral. For some children this technique is helpful in learning adding or subtracting numbers much quickly. It also helps children see that 7 = 5 + 2 and 9 = 5 + 4, 6 = 4 + 2 etc. The interrelationship between numbers is very clear to children by using this set of “training” numbers before they can completely use Arabic numerals abstractly. More details can be found at www.mathadchess.com.

Frank Ho


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