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Number Grid

Number Grid is a powerful exercise and it involves processing speed, simultaneous processing, visual memory, and when played in the advanced stage, working memory. It is designed to sharpen the brain. It is a good remediation for children who are slow with their math facts. Just about anyone can benefit from this exercise.

This exercise requires two people. One is to flash the grid and monitor the metronome. If a metronome is unavailable, the person flashing the grid can snap his/her fingers to keep a steady beat or rhythm. When the gird is flashed, the participant counts out loud from one to four while attempting to memorize the grid. When the participant reaches four the grid is taken from view and the participant, without missing a beat tells back the grid. The participant gives it back by stating from left to right what was on the grid. For example, the participant may say blank, blank, 5, blank, blank, blank, 2, blank, 1. This would be the correct response for a three line grid with 5 being in the top right hand corner, a 2 on the bottom left hand corner and a 1 on the bottom right hand corner of the grid. If the participant misses a beat or says an incorrect number or response, the participant repeats the process. The process is repeated until the participant is able to say all the responses of the grid correctly and keep up with the beat. When this is accomplished, the participant moves to the next grid.

After all the grids have been mastered, the advance stage of this game can be played. The instructor gives a math rule for the participant to follow. The rule is a simple rule such as add 2. The correct responses for the grid explained above would be 1, 2, 3, 4, blank, blank, 7, blank, blank, blank, 4, blank, 3. This is the initial counting to four followed by each number of the grid that is replaced by the number plus 2. Rules can include simple math facts of addition, subtraction or multiplication depending upon the needs of the child.

Step by Step Instructions: Number Grid.

1. Obtain a number grid. The sample contains two sets of grids. Each grid has three rows and three columns. The numbers of 0 to 9 are randomly placed on the grid. The first grids have only two numbers and the last grids have nine numbers. The grids from the handout must be cut and organized (stapled together). Two sets of grids are provided to reduce the memorization of the girds across trials. Use one set on some days and the other set on different days.

2. Obtain a system of keeping a rhythm (metronome (actual or digital) or snapping your fingers).

3. Explain to the participant the rules of the game: A grid will be shown to them and a rhythm will start. To the rhythm, the participant is to say 1, 2, 3, 4 while looking at the grid and memorizing the numbers on the grid and their position. When the participant says 4 the grid is hidden from view and without missing a beat, the participant gives nine responses which correspond to what was viewed on the grid going from left to right and top to bottom. If a grid location was blank, the participant would say blank. If the grid location had a number, the participant would say the number. If the participant makes an error or misses a beat, the grid is to be shown again and the procedure repeated until the participant gets the grid correct.

4. Start the rhythm and show the first grid. The participant immediately starts counting one to 4 with the rhythm.

5. When the participant reaches 4, hide the grid from view. The participant is to say back what was seen on the grid without missing a beat. The participant will give nine additional responses. If correct go to step 7.

6. If the participant was wrong on a number, or gave a number when a blank was called for, or the participant skipped a beat, then steps 4 and 5 are repeated using the same grid.

7. Show the next grid, have the participant count to 4 with the rhythm.

8. When the participant reaches 4, hide the grid from view. The participant is to say back what was seen on the grid without missing a beat. The participant will give nine additional responses. If correct go to step 7. If an error was made, go to step 6.

9. Play this game for about 5 to 10 minutes and see how many grids the participant can do without getting to the point of being tearful. Find a grid to quit on. The next trial does not have to start at the two number grid, start at a point that is easy for the participant but not too easy.

10. The first level of mastery is reached when the participant can look at a 9 numbered grid and say all nine numbers without making a mistake and without missing a beat.

11. Instruct the participant to look at the grid while counting to four, but this time instead of saying the number that was seen, say two plus the number (e.g., 4 when a 2 is seen, 6 when a 4 is seen).

12. Work towards another level of Mastery which is the participant can have a 9 number grid and say the rule response to all nine numbers without making a mistake and without missing a beat.

13. Continue this process but with harder rules until Mastery has been made with any addition rule of 0 to 9, any subtraction rule of 0 to 9 or any multiplication rule of 0 to 10. If the child is only in second grade, there is no need to master multiplication rules. Make this task age appropriate

Exercise:Number Grid.

Time: about 5 to 10 minutes, sometimes longer at first.

Recommended Frequency: once a day, 5 or 6 days a week.

Materials Needed: two sets of number grids.

Pretest Assessment: the participant has trouble with math facts and/or processing speed and/or working memory when compared with same age children.

Mastery: being able to look at a 9 numbered grid, give 9 correct responses according to the rule and not missing a beat or rhythm.

Additional comments: This exercise can be very frustrating at first. Encourage the child to continue to do the best that they can. Push the child as much as possible but not to the point of tears. Try to make the atmosphere as relaxed and non-serious as possible. There needs to be some stress to advance in this skill but not enough stress to make it unpleasant or overwhelming. If the child feels overwhelmed, break this activity down by making it simpler. Once the participant has mastered the simpler version, then make it more complex.

A few children may need to be motivated by rewards at first. Find the reward that the child will work for. Once participants notice improvements in their performance, they are generally more cooperative and the rewards can be faded out.

Some participants will need help on how to go about mastering the harder grids. Give hints like "see the grid in your mind" or "instead of memorizing 9 numbers, memorize three numbers" (e.g., instead of 1, 4, 7 memorize 147, each row having one three digit number in place of 3 numbers per row).

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