For basic mathematical operations, it is necessary to know your multiplication tables. They make us more efficient when it comes to everyday calculations. Those who do not know their tables use a regular calculator, or rely on the one built into the smart phones that most of us have. Shopkeepers, or other businessmen who might not have a smart phone, can still use the older calculators. But what about students? They are not allowed to use calculators or mobile phones during exams. So their only option is to learn at least the important tables.
Often, students find it difficult to learn tables. They hesitate, feeling that if they fumble at one place, they might forget the rest of the table too. Yet it is time-consuming to solve mathematical equations without knowing the tables.
I was eager to try and find a solution to this problem. I felt it would help the students if the tables were constantly before them. Like most other ZP schools, our classrooms too have the basic tables painted on the walls. But what about when the students go home?
Some students may still use their parents’ mobiles or calculators to solve homework problems, but not all of them have access to these devices. The guardians of students studying in ZP schools tend to be farm labourers, or small farmers, who do not usually own such gadgets. Nor is it possible for them to buy these for their wards. This may cause feelings of inferiority in students from less well-off backgrounds, along with the fear that the lack of such resources will hinder their progress in school.
I have found that it is not at all necessary to spend a great deal of money to create educational resources that are useful in the constructivist method of teaching. All that is required is a little imagination.
Keeping in mind such difficulties, I decided to try and develop something that would be cost-effective, as well as easy to use. This was how our ‘mini-computer’ came into being. All it needed was an empty plastic bottle, an adhesive such as Fevicol, a blade, scissors, a sketch pen, and card paper.
First I cut two pieces of card paper to match the size of the bottle. Then I wrote out all the answers of the tables from 2 to 12 on one of the sheets, leaving a margin on top, where I wrote the number for each table. Then, on the other card paper, I cut out ten squares, one below the other, so that they acted like windows when placed on top of the first card paper. Next to each window, I drew the multiplication sign and wrote the numbers 1 to 10. Then I cut one more square on top of each of the ten squares.
Next, I turned the bottle upside down, and pasted the card paper that had the answers of the tables written out on it. I placed the other card paper over it. Now when I turned the card paper with the cut out windows, a number would appear in the topmost window followed by the answers of the table on the windows below it. For instance, to get the six times’ table, once we got the number ‘6’ in the top window, the entire table appeared in the windows underneath.as can be seen in the picture. Our “mini computer” was ready!
Now our students use these “mini- computers” most efficiently. We have made two such models for them. On one bottle, we have the tables from 2-12, while on the other we have 13-25. Some students have made their own bottle computers at home! This “mini computer” can also be modified for learning English words. All you need to do is replace the top number with a letter of the alphabet and, beneath it, words starting with that letter.
I have also devised a geography game with the help of card paper cut-outs. I cut out two round discs of different sizes from a sheet of card paper. The smaller has windows one below the other, next to which are headings like “state”, “capital”, “occupation” etc. The bigger disc has the actual names of states, their capital, main occupations and so on written down, one below the other. Both discs are attached to each other, the smaller disc on top of the larger, with the help of a toothpick or a nail in the centre. Once the student is given the name of the state, she can simply rotate the smaller disc until the name of that state followed by its relevant details appear in the windows. Students enjoy playing this game, and it increases their general knowledge.
Blog & photos: Laxmi Tajendra Rao, Deputy Teacher, Dhumal-mala ZP School (Kunjeerwadi Centre, Haveli Tehsil, Pune District)
Translation & editing: samata.shiksha team