Mushroom’s Garden

The following is a ten-frame magic garden story created by one of our five-year-olds. See if you can spot the knowledge he’s sharing.

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Once upon a time there was a mushroom.  The mushroom planted the seed in the first row.  That night, a bird came down and dug it up.

The next morning, the mushroom didn’t know where it went.   So, he planted it deeper in the second row.  He went home.  Again, the bird came and used his wing and dug it up.

The next morning the mushroom came and saw his seed was gone again! He dug down really deep and planted a new seed in the third spot.  He was tired so he went home.  When the bird came, he saw that the seed was buried very deep. He dug and dug and dug until he got the seed.

In the morning, the mushroom was mad.  He planted another seed in the fifth spot.  The bird came again and stole that one.

Mushroom was getting very frustrated.  Every day he planted a new seed and everyday bird would dig, dig, dig it up.  On the last day, mushroom planted the seed in the tenth spot.  He hid behind a tree.  When the bird came, mushroom jumped out at him and yelled, “AAAAHHHHHhhhhhhhh!”  Bird flew away and never bothered the mushroom again.  The sun came out, the rain came down, the flower grew into a beautiful dragon.  The End.



2015-10-01 (246)We introduced ten-frames the other day. In Pre-K we begin by using them to tell stories.  As you might read in the link above, ten-frames are frequently used when children are beginning to practice subitizing, quickly assigning a verbal number to a set of objects.  This is an important mathematical skill, but at this time it is not our main focus.  We are focusing on one-to-one correspondence, oral language, turn taking, working memory and basic structure of a ten-frame.  Each child approaches the task at their own level, expanding their knowledge and experience.

The students start with a blank ten-frame. We call it the “garden”.  They also have chosen ten glass stones known as dragon tears or dragon seeds. Mrs. Pless or I then tell them a story.

Once upon a time, a wee little [Katie] elf planted three dragon seeds in her garden.
(everyone places three stones in the squares, one for each square starting at the top left)

Along came a bird who dropped two more seeds.
(place two more seeds in their plots)

The sun shone, the rain came down, the dragon plants grew and grew.  Use your fingers to show me how many dragon plants grew in the garden.

The fun begins after they have practiced a few teacher stories.  Now it is their turn to tell stories to each other.  One narrates while the other reenacts on their garden.  Stay tuned for a recent tale…..

More Random Acts of Math

This group loves to count. They count rocks on the play ground, the largest arm-load of walnuts and the number of days left until Halloween.  Without any prompting from us, snack-time has become the most common opportunity to practice one-to-one correspondence.  The counting strategies range from lining items up, counting-as-you-eat, removing one item from a bag at a time and pile counting.  Pile counting doesn’t usually end up the true total number of items, but making this mistake is part of the learning process.


They may hear if I tell them, they will know if they discover it.




Finger Counting and Dice Rolling

20130307_8271Sometimes the tasks that seem simple and one-dimensional have much more impact than we realize.  Finger counting is a good example.  When our children are little, we help them practice counting to five using their fingers.  As they get older, they no longer need to count each individual finger, but know the finger configurations for each of the numbers 0-5.  Ask a five-and-a-half or six-year-old to quickly show you the correct number of fingers for any digit up to five and they probably won’t even think about it.  They will automatically present you with the correct number of fingers. Usually, these older children can quickly use the sets from both hands to represent numbers up to ten without actually counting, either.  They are so comfortable with the formation of these sets, that putting the two sets (hands) together to make a new number looks like an easy task. So how do we get a younger child to this level of creating and recognizing sets?  Play and practice, of course.

In mathematical terms, seeing the quantity of a set without counting is called subititzing.  We support this skill by playing games that require the children to recognize arrays of  pips on dice and singing counting songs using our fingers.  With experience  the arrangements on the dice or on their hands become second nature.  By the time they are in kindergarten, they will see and identify these sets easily.  Being able to visually recognize sets of objects will help them as they move forward into double-digit addition, subtraction and even multiplication.

20130308_8233We’ve been using dice with our horse unit to help us get used to these patterns.  In the photograph above, the child is rolling two dice  to find out how many apples to feed her horse.  The red die represents the red apples (or pompoms) and the green die is for the green apples.   Each child in the group had a turn to roll the dice and announce the feeding requirements.

Our horses are designed using an origami type of construction.  The children decorated each horse as they pleased.  The folds in the head allowed the horse’s mouth to be opened and closed. With each roll, the children “picked” the correct number of apples and fed them to their ravenous equines.  This activity allowed the children to practice their subitizing skills while also exploring addition.


Tasty Mathematics

A large collection of paper ice cream cones arrived in the math center this week. During small group time, the children have been finding ways to group them together. We’ve been recording their attribute choices to find out what the children value in their ice cream. The sorting rules they have used so far are:

  • Colors (pink, brown, white, yellow, blue, and green)
  • Cone Shape (triangle and rectangle)
  • # of Scoops (1, 2, 3,  and “a lot!”)
  • Size (big and small)

This morning, the ice cream cones were requested during choice time. After dumping them out, sorting them all, and mixing them back up, the children decided that we should use these for our dessert shop. We discussed what happens when a customer approaches the window at an ice cream shop and the role of the worker.

Child: Welcome to our shop. What ice cream do you want?
Me:  I’d like one scoop of vanilla, please.
Child: (searches through the pile to find the right one)

Searching for the right order.

Child: Here you go.
Me: I need to give you money, right?
Child: Yes.  One money.

Paying “one money” for a single scoop.

We decided to use the magnet square blocks as our cash since they were handy and easy to count. At first, all of the ice cream cones were “one money”. When I began ordering cones with eight scoops, the children caught on quickly to the need for higher costs. After negotiation, we finally decided that cones would be $1.00 per scoop. At first, they attempted to charge me $1300 for a cone with one scoop, chocolate dip, and peanuts, but we found out that the pricing on that item was a little too steep. Eventually, the sharp sales-children bargained for one dollar for each add-on plus the original one dollar per scoop.

Counting scoops.

Later, the counting bears were added to the mix as “Gummi Bears”.  They, too, were one dollar per bear.  We practiced more one to one correspondence by placing each bear on a “money magnet” to make sure we had the right amount of payment for a handful of bears.

Isn’t it exciting when the children grab an idea and run with it?

Morning Job

A new task we have implemented into our daily routine is our morning job. This task involves the students working on several math skills that help each child figure out how many fish are displayed on the card.

First, the students must count each cartoon fish that is displayed on the card. Then, the students trace the shape of the tactile number. This helps the children make a connection between the items that they counted and the shape of the numeral that corresponds to that group of objects.

In the last portion of the task, the student is asked to put the same number of velcro fish on the flannel board below and have it checked by a teacher. Many of the students use different strategies to achieve this task. Some students count each fish as they put it on the board, while others will put several fish on the board and count after to see if they need to modify the amount of fish.