Get a Grip #73

(grades K-6)
Complete workstation, including 128 self-teaching puzzles and 40-page teacher manual.

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sample book cover

Sample Activity: View

We supply everything you need: a cardboard job box, 4 pounds of lentils, bottle funnel, scoop, clothespin, ten jars and pill vials, and labels with easy-to-draw symbols calibrated in decimals and fractions. Kids experience science and math as process. They pour lentils, compare volumes, work with fractions, decimals, percentages, and symbolic algebra through playful trial-and-error challenges.
The only setup required for this workstation is cutting out the preprinted labels and taping them to the included jars and vials.


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  • get materials
  • teaching tips
  • objectives
  • standards

Table of Contents for #73 Get a Grip:


    Set up Workstation out of the box.
  1. Photocopy Response Forms and Progress Chart on center page.
  2. Explain workstation procedures: Experiment, Respond, Check.
  3. Review safety rules.
  4. Sequence through 128 puzzles.
  5. Rest a few months, then repeat at a higher levels of understanding.

Puzzle Sets

Each of the 15 sections in this book begin with 3 pages of introductory material organized into 7 parts:
  1. Set A: Which holds more?
  2. Set B: Pour and count.
  3. Set C: Add.
  4. Set D: Which holds less?
  5. Set E: Multiply.
  6. Set F: Guess, then test.
  7. Set G: Compare parts and wholes.
  8. Set H: More, equal, or less?
  9. Set I: Pour and count fractions.
  10. Set J: Subtract.
  11. Set K: What goes between?
  12. Set L: Mixed numbers.
  13. Set M: Fractions, decimals, percents.
  14. Set N: Order.
  15. Set O: Count and write by fractions.
  16. Set P: Experiment!


Complete Master List for #73 Get a Grip:

Our Get-a-Grip workstation is out-of-the-box ready. You add nothing more, not even lentils, unless you choose that option. There is no master list.

Convenient Shopping:

Get a Grip Workstation Without Lentils

add your own lentils

You get the same complete ready-to-go workstation at a cheaper price because you add your own lentils. (You'll need to buy about 4 pounds worth.)

Get a Grip Print Materials only

128 Student Puzzles in 8 booklets, 1 Teacher's Manual

We truly admire the urge to economize by building workstations yourself. Please purchase, in addition to these print materials, a complete set of volume containers (#V73) to use as a model before you attempt to improvise additional workstations on your own. (We don't allow these print materials to be photocopied.)

Extra Get-a-Grip Volume Containers

extra set of 10 vials and jars

You get the same ten volume containers that are included in our Get-a-Grip workstation. You tape on your own labels photocopied from the Teacher's Manual.

Teaching Tips for #73 Get a Grip:

This program enables students to become their own best teachers. It comes as close to running without teacher supervision as any learning system we have ever created. Get-a-Grip is like visiting a town on the edge of a vast frontier of educational possibility. This town is civilized and orderly: just pour lentils into the Job Box, add ready-to-use manipulatives, and work through our self-paced progam. It's as easy as hopping on the bus for the guided tour.

Stay in town as long as you like. When you feel an urge for adventure with more open-ended learning in science and math, language skills, social science and art, strike out cross-country with Lentil Science, available in Primary (K-3) and Intermediate (3-6) versions. Topics like pour, search, compare, design, measure, divide, calibrate and estimate will lead your students into new territories, providing just enough structure to keep them oriented, motivated, and creatively solving problems.

Lesson by Lesson Objectives for #73 Get a Grip:

  1. A. Which holds more? Among the first questions children think about when they begin to quantify their world are "Which is bigger?" and "Which holds more?" This is a most natural place to begin for students of all grade levels.
  2. B. Pour and count: This puzzles set explores equality. This requires students to fill the smaller container fair and full each time, then accurately pour and count into the larger container, again ending in a fair and full condition.
  3. C. Add: This puzzle set looks remarkably like algebra. Children have a chance to gain a comfortable certainty, working with math operations and symbols in a totally natural and fun way.
  4. D. Which holds less? When kids cut a cake, the important consideration is more, not less. These puzzles asks students to modify their thinking, and focus on lesser volumes. These are more challenging than the inequalities of set A, because students must manage multiple containers.
  5. E. Multiply: In Set B, the emphasis was on filling containers fair and full, and on counting. With these skills established, students can now understand multiplication as successive addition.
  6. F. Guess, then test: Students sort through the containers in a process of trial and error, until they discover the correct match. Guessing (forming a reasonable hypothesis) and testing (experimenting) are both important. Feedback is immediate and concrete, rapidly advancing thinking skills.
  7. G. Compare parts and wholes: This puzzle set provides a kinesthetic, 3-dimensional introductory experience to wholes and parts. Kids may complete these puzzles without even realizing that they are doing fractions.
  8. H. More, equal, or less? This series of puzzles involve judgement calls. We have avoided borderline cases that might confuse beginning discriminators. Equal will always be "really close" to the calibration mark. And unequal will be clearly off the mark.
  9. I. Pour and count out loud: This set of puzzles provides an overview of how fractions work and what they mean. Encourage students to express themselves with increasing sophistication, both verbally and on paper: 1 part, 2 parts, 3 parts. And 1 third, 2 thirds, 3 thirds. And 1/3, 2/3, 3/3.
  10. J. Subtract: Students pour a larger container into a smaller container, stopping at fair and full. The remaining lentils now fill some other container fair and full.
  11. K. What goes between? Students learn to string 3 inequalities together, keeping the symbols (the hungry alligator mouths) all pointing in the same direction. They might start with the smallest volume and work up, or the largest volume and work down. What belongs in between is still the same.
  12. L. Mixed numbers: The whole volume plus a fraction more fills which larger volume fair and full? Pour theses lentils back into the smaller volume again to discover the equivalent improper fraction.
  13. M. Read fraction, then decimal, then give percent: The left side of each volume container is calibrated in fractions, and the right side in decimals, with dashed lines establishing equivalency between these two forms. Students learn quickly and naturally how fractions, decimals and percents can all represent an equal amount.
  14. N. Order: These puzzles are similar to set K, except the boundary conditions are no longer defined. Any one set of volumes could hold more or less than another. Where to begin? Anywhere you like.
  15. O. Count and write by fractions: These puzzles continue in the counting tradition of sets B and I, raising students to higher levels of understanding in their work with proper fractions, improper fractions and mixed numbers.
  16. P. Experiment! We conclude with a set of eight simple experiments on calibrating, graphing and estimating.

National Science Education Standards (NRC 1996) for #73 Get a Grip:

TEACHING Standards

These 100 activity sheets promote excellence in science teaching by these NSES criteria:
Teachers of science...
A: ...plan an inquiry-based science program. (p. 30)
B: and facilitate learning. (p. 32)
C: ...engage in ongoing assessment of their teaching and of student learning. (p. 37)
D: and manage learning environments that provide students with the time, space, and resources needed for learning science. (p. 43)

CONTENT Standards

These 100 activity sheets contain fundamental content as defined by these NSES guidelines (p. 109).
• Represent a central event or phenomenon in the natural world.
• Represent a central scientific idea and organizing principle.
• Have rich explanatory power.
• Guide fruitful investigations.
• Apply to situations and contexts common to everyday experiences.
• Can be linked to meaningful learning experiences.
• Are developmentally appropriate for students at the grade level specified.

Unifying Concepts and Processes

NSES Framework: Systems, order, and organization • Evidence, models and explanation • Constancy, change, and measurement
Core Concepts/Processes: Insightful thinking and integrative understanding in math and science emerge from concrete, kinesthetic, 3-dimensional experimentation with volumes in a box of lentils. • Volume is conserved as lentils pour from container to container.

Science as Inquiry (content standard A)

NSES Framework: Identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations. • Design and conduct a scientific investigation. • Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data. • Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence. • Think critically and logically to connect evidence and explanations. • Communicate scientific procedures and explanations. • Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry.
Core Inquiries: Puzzle books foster inquiry skills and independent learning.

Physical Science (content standard B)

NSES Framework: Properties and changes of properties in matter
Core Content: Students practice science and math inquiry skills by pouring and comparing volumes of lentils: ordering, equality, inequality, fractions, mixed numbers, decimals, percentages, algebraic expression, estimation, hypothesis, trial and error testing, measuring, calibrating, graphing, and more.