One day King Equals asked Plus Gnome if at the end of each day he could please add up all the jewels collected by all the Gnomes. Plus Gnome was honored. However near the end of the first day he was a bit overwhelmed by the large pile that needed to be counted. As he went through the pile he kept losing his place. Finally he got the idea to put each jewel into a box as he counted it. Then he wrote the number on the ground to help him remember. This worked for a little while, however his box got so full that all of the jewels spilled onto the ground. What to do?Using the props and characters he added a second box just to the left of the first. When ever he counted 10 jewels he would bag them up. Mark the number ten on the bag and put it into the second box. Same for when the second box got full. He'd bag up ten bags, mark the new bag 100 and then put this new bag into a third box just to the left of the second.
Before the lesson I made Plus's box from an old cardboard box. We used a slate to mark his numbers, and cut old cloth and yarn to make his bags. These lessons seemed to take a long time - what with all the bagging and cutting and tying. But it really worked for Nightowl. We reviewed this for several days and each day I'd find her tugging out the box and jewels before I was ready. She was quite eager.
All this place value led naturally to column addition when King Equals asked that Plus Gnome please keep track of all the jewels collected all week. Yikes! What's a gnome to do? Well, our gnome simply put a second box on top of the first. The second box was for jewels collected the second day. Then the columns were added together. Voila! This morphed so easily into column addition on paper. Everyday Nightowl would work with her props: sometimes her gnome would race against my gnome to see who could add the fastest. Then she would draw the lesson into her math book. During the week she would do workbooks full of problems. It always made me grin when she'd see a column addition problem and mutter to herself: "Oh, that's easy."