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.

Idea #1:

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.

Idea #3

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.


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What’s the problem?

One of my favorite parts of our day is story time. We read a variety of stories with silly voices and animated expressions. We take the students along in the adventure of reading a good book. But what makes a story great? What needs to be present in order for the story to make sense? This week, we have started discussing how many stories have a problem and a solution. Sometimes stories have one problem that needs to solved, while others have multiple problems.


Yesterday, we read a book called Mine-o-saur by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen which tells the story of a dinosaur takes toys from all the other dinosaurs. The students decided that the problem was that the Mine-o-saur does not know how to share his toys. He continually takes them from the other dinosaurs, and as a result, no one wants to play with him. He solved his problem by giving back the toys he stole and apologizing to the other dinosaurs. In this story, there is only one problem, but the problem repeats itself until he realizes how to solve it.


Today, we read a story called Pigsty by Mark Teague. The story follows a boy name Wendell and his very messy room. His room is SO messy, that pigs start to show up! The students decided that the main problem of this book is that his room is too messy, but there were several smaller problems as well. Each of the smaller problems happen because of the main problem. His basketball gets squished by one of the pigs, his baseball cards get chewed up, and his mom gets upset. The class felt that the solution was pretty simple. Wendell needed to clean up that pigsty!

While both of these stories have problems, they are presented very differently in the way they are written. For the rest of the week, we will investigate other stories with problems and how those problems are solved. What stories do you know of that have a problem and a solution?