One of our centers had a makeover recently. Due to the sharing of nature collections from both at school and at home, the children have created what they call “The Science Lab.” We have ample acorns, plentiful pinecones, noodle-like nests, and one slightly dead, but way cool, cicada. The children have created their own experiments involving buoyancy, auditory tones, and habitats. Collections are also a great way to practice our math skills.
We are Family!
Our families are made of so many different people. Yesterday’s Morning Message asked, “Do you have a sister?” Children who do have a sister put their names inside a circle that was labeled “yes.” Those without put their names outside of the circle. Today repeated the question about brothers. Taking it a step further, we put two circles on the floor and handed each child a doll to represent themselves. If you have a sister or brother, you put your doll in the corresponding circle. If you do not have either, you put your doll on the outside of the circles.
All was well, until someone discovered that they needed more dolls. One of the children realized that they had a brother and a sister and didn’t know what to do with their doll. Mrs. Pless asked for solution suggestions from the group. We had a few ideas percolating.
Put dolls who have brothers and sisters in between the two circles. We tried it, but the children realized that then it looked as though those dolls had “No” siblings.
Place the two circles on top of one another and then place all of the sibling dolls in the new, single circle. Children who have only one sibling quickly realized that this wasn’t going to work.
Pick up the top (now stacked) circle and slide it over so that the two overlap only a small bit in the middle. The overlap is where you put dolls who have both brothers and sisters.
We have certainly had classes figure out the final solution in the past, but we’ve never had so many thoughtful experimental ideas. It was quite exciting to watch their mathematical thinking stretch.
Many Forms of Patterns
The Kitchen Game
Want a daily dose of mathematics in your child’s life? Add a play kitchen to your home. Ours inspired a child dubbed activity called, “The Kitchen Game.” It all began with a simple table setting. One child carefully laid out five bowls, four plates, and two cups. Thinking I would encourage him to practice some one-to-one counting, I asked, “How many people are coming to this party you are preparing?” He carefully counted plates around the table in a counter-clockwise fashion, double counting many of the same dishes. “Ten! Ten people are coming for dinner.” This taught me much about this child’s mathematical thinking and understanding of concepts such as one to one correspondence, estimating, and conservation of numbers.
A few moments later, the two chefs invited Mrs. Pless to join them for soup. Two other children noticed this new endeavor and decided help the restaurant out. In a whirlwind of cooking and flying paper, Mrs. Pless was instantly inundated with bills for services costing up to ten hundred eighty thousand. At one point a student kindly made a “pass” for Mrs. Pless so that her next meal would be free. Needless to say, eventually Mrs. Pless ran out of “money.”
Child: We have a big collection of money.
Mrs. Forst: What if Mrs. Pless runs out of money?
Child: We make her pay. Mrs. Pless, do you have any money?
Mrs. Pless: No, I’m broke. You have all of my money.
Child: You have to take it out of your bank account.
Mrs. Pless: My bank account is empty.
Child: Too bad. You still have to pay. [Maniacal laugh] Because we’re a bad restaurant. No one’s going to want to come here!
I think I agree. This restaurant is a bit pricey. However, look at all of the mathematical concepts they are sharing with us. They already have some understanding of:
- a bill (that you have to pay)
- a bill (a denomination of money)
- large numbers
- the consequences of running an overly expensive restaurant (???)
In fact, I believe I might have encountered our next major credit card company founder.
Mrs. Forst: How much is an eggplant?
Child: You have to pay $600 every month. It changes.
Mrs. Forst: How long do I have to pay this?
Child: 106 days, but you have to pay everyday.
Did you see how the payments went up when I wasn’t paying attention? Classic.
We never know when the season will begin, but we can be sure that it will be long and well-loved. It is Survey Season in Pre-K.
At some point during the year, the children notice the container of wipe-off board surveys tucked into a corner of the room. It begins with a single child, an Expo Marker and a clipboard. The next thing we know, we’ve got a bevy of journalists interviewing friends, teachers, parents and even the class pets.
Our first independent surveys are pre-printed and provide practice collecting tallies and marking bar graphs. When we run out of those, the children jump on the opportunity to create their own. The questions range from the scholarly to the quirky. Following their investigation, each child takes pride in sharing their results and observations during Morning Meeting.