First of all, thanks for all the comments on that. It was great to get everyone’s different ideas and tips.
Here’s what we did.
I printed out the graph paper I mentioned in the first post. I cut out ten single squares, ten ten-square strips and ten hundred-square squares. After I put bandages on my blistered hands (ha ha, it was a lot of cutting!) I sat down with Abby the next morning, equipped with my bits of paper and a Magna Doodle.
She was intrigued and got it almost immediately. We counted ten single squares and lay them down on the ten strip. She saw that it was indeed ten ones long. Then we lay ten ten strips on the hundred square, showing that it was equivalent to ten tens. Then I said “How many do I have?” and lay down 3 tens and 4 ones. “Thirty-four!” came the cry. I wrote 3 over the word tens and 4 over the word ones and lay the papers under the words. I asked “How many tens do I have? How many ones?”
I swear you could see the lightbulb appear over her head.
It was nothing then to extend it to hundreds as well, and we played with them for a few minutes more before she lit off with a gleam in her eyes, paper in her fists and headed for the markers.
So that’s that!