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Plant Focus

Quercus macdougallii
A rare oak endemic to the Sierra Juárez in Oaxaca

The Acorn-ulator

Peter Marshall kindly forwarded a remarkable document that Terry Willis discovered while going through old files at Winters Flat Primary School in Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia. Acorns are of course the source of mighty oaks, and they are also a source of nourishment for some, but who knew they could also be used to teach mathematics? The "Acorn-ulator" apparently consisted of a wooden base for ten removable "branches", each containing slots for 10 acorns. It was devised "to tap into the child's innate desire to collect and group objects" and to provide "a structure to assist in introducing, exploring, and reinforcing the base ten number system". It was produced by the Winters Flat School community and made from solid pine. Ten acorns were provided with the base, and the recipient of the device was encouraged to collect the remaining 90 acorns needed to complete the set.

It is no coincidence that Winters Flat School should choose acorns as counters, given their connection to the historic plantation of valonia oaks (Quercus macrolepis). You can read more on that story here and here.

Below you can view the 19-page Teacher's Guide that suggested how the Acorn-ulator could be used in the classroom. Use the arrows on your keyboard or click on the arrows below or the top corners of the pages to flip through the brochure.