How to Make Dot Plates or Dot Cards
Using paper plates (not the plastic or styrofoam type as they don't seem to work as well) or stiff card stock paper use the pattern provided to make a variety of dot plates or cards. Use a bingo dabber or stickers to represent the 'pips' or the dots on the plates. Try to arrange the dots in a variety of ways as shown (for a three, make a row of three dots on one plate and on another plate, arrange the three dots into a triangular pattern.) Where possible, represent a number with 1-3 dot arrangements. Upon finishing, you should have approximately 15 dot plates or cards. The dots should not be easily wiped off or peeled off as you will want to use the plates over and over again.
How to Use the Dot Plates or Cards
Depending on the age of the child or children, you can use one or two plates at a time for the following activities. Each activity will have you holding up one or two plates and asking questions. The goal is for the children to recognize the shape of the dots on the plate and when held up, they will recognize that it's a five or a 9 relatively quickly. You want the children to get past one to one counting of the dots and to recognize the number by the dot arrangement. Think of how you recognize the number on dice, you don't count the pips but you know when you see a 4 and a 5 that it is 9. This is what you want your children to learn.
Suggestions for Use
Hold up one or two plates and ask what number it/they represent, or how many dots there are. Do this many times until the answers almost become automatic.
Use the dot plates for basic addition facts, hold up two plates and ask for the sum.
Use the dot plates to teach anchors of 5 and 10. Hold up one plate and say, what's 5 more or 10 more and repeat often until the children respond quickly.
Use the dot plates for multiplication. Which ever fact you're working on, hold up a dot plate and ask them to multiply it by 4. Or keep 4 up and keep showing a different plate until they learn how to multiply all numbers by 4. Introduce a different fact each month. When all facts are known, hold up 2 plates randomly and ask them to multiply the 2.
Use the plates for 1 more than or 1 less than or 2 more than or 2 less than. Hold up a plate and say this number less 2 or this number plus 2.
Dot plates or cards are just another way to helps students learn number conservation, basic addition facts, basic subtraction facts and multiplication. However, they do make learning fun. If you are a teacher, you can use the dot plates daily for bell work. Students can also play with the dot plates.