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How Can You Make a Life Sized Hundred’s Chart Cheaply?

At the last NCTM conference, I went to a session about “The Learning Carpet” which is a giant 10×10 grid.  This life size grid helps students see number patterns on a 100’s chart.  To actually buy one it costs around $300.  The presenter told us that she started out with a tarp to make hers before she had the carpets manufactured.  Intrigued with the multiple ways the carpet could be used, we set out to teach people about the carpet in our own district and make our own.  Several of us made them with small patterned duct tape.  They took us about 3 hours to make, and it works best if you have help.  Each square is 6 1/2 inches wide.  On the real “Learning Carpet” the lines in the middle of the squares are 1/2 inch wide, but the duct tape we used is over an inch wide.  There are number and letter cards that go with the mat which we made as well on card stock.  One of our teachers took the initiative to get together before school started to make the “learning tarps” so we could help each other.  To buy the tarp and duct tape it costed us about $30. Which is the better buy?  Hmmmm…you do the math! Below are our results.  

Turquoise and pink chevrons…wooo!

Yellow and paint splatters…

Orange and bubble design…

As you can see from this photo, it is easiest to lay all the horizontal stripes first and then go back and lay the vertical stripes.

I tried to make a learning carpet a different way just to see if it would work…my little experiment!  I  built a stencil from a piece of poster board and spray painted the stencil on a full size sheet.  To make the stencil, I cut the 1/2 inch outlines away from the squares while leaving a little piece of poster board attached to the squares so that the stencil wouldn’t fall apart.  The stencil is the green rectangle with paint on it that you see lying on the sheet.

I just moved the stencil and lined it up each time I spray painted to repeat the pattern.  Towards the end I started getting several smudges since the stencil was getting soaked with paint.  Sturdier cardboard may have worked out better.  Two cans of spray paint are necessary to paint all the squares on the sheet.  The total cost for the poster board, the sheet, and the spray paint was about $20.  Although the spray paint/sheet method was messier, it is much easier to create this project alone than stretching the tape exactly straight with the tarp method.  Plus you can easily throw the sheet in the washer when it accumulates too much kid dirt!

A few paint fumes later…my finished product!

If you truly wanted to have a learning carpet, this stencil method would work to spray paint a carpet remnant with low pile as well.

 Read my original post about “The Learning Carpet” to find out more about how this can be used in your classroom.

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