We have been so busy this week as we practiced our new routines and learned where everything goes in our room. Most of our Morning Meetings consisted of practicing greeting one another in a kind and friendly manner. We also used this time to discuss any issues that have come up during centers and choice time. We talked about what to do if you are ready to move to a new area, but your toys are still all over the floor, how to share an area even if you really want to play alone, and how to include others when they want to play something that might be different from what is already in progress.
During centers, our focus was on using new materials. At the Art Center, the children were exploring “foam dough”. This nifty product molds and squishes a bit like play dough, but it is made out of tiny balls of Styrofoam that are held together by a slightly sticky substance. Amazingly, it generally stays off of our clothes and hands. One of foam dough’s best properties is an ability to stand up when squished in place. Its light composition keeps if from falling down as play dough often does.
On center used counting bears to play a game called “Roll ’em!” Although the bears are not a new manipulative, the use of dice in our classroom was new. The way this game is played, a child rolls a die to find out how many bears to place on the grid. Each successive roll adds more bears until the grid is full. This game encourages one to one correspondence as well as counting. Students also begin to notice the patterns inherent in counting. One child who had three bears on his paper rolled another three and stated, “Hey! That makes six!” Early math experiences that allow children to see, feel, and move manipulatives strengthen their understanding of the underlying concepts needed for more complex problems.
Outside, we saw many experiments in action. One group was trying to find the best place to roll balls. They tried many different areas and were weighing the pros and cons of both. Some spots allowed the balls to roll very quickly, but they only had a short run before they crashed into a barrier. Other tracks were long and unimpeded, but made the balls roll very, very slowly. At this time, the children are still trying to decide what made the difference in ball speed. Some suggested that the balls’ “bumpiness” (texture) was a huge factor, while others thought it more likely to be the size of the ball. No one has yet suggested that it might have something to do with the slant of the ground. We’ll have to keep an eye on this experiment.