In the classroom we provide and encourage ample time for building. Not just during open exploration times, but as a math center or group activity. On the surface, building maybe seen only as play, however if you take a deeper look, the important math work becomes apparent.
In Preschool, children are beginning to develop their Geometry Thinking through the basis of shape, space and location. Young Learners need the time to practice arranging and rearranging objects to develop their Spatial Learning. Working with blocks and Lego help children develop an understanding of how objects can be arranged and positioned within a given space. Please watch the video taken from
“Mathematical experiences for very young children should build largely upon their play and the natural relationships between learning and life in their daily activities, interests, and questions.” (Early Childhood Today, www.scholastic.com)
3 to 4 times a week we have Math Centers, after a whole group math mini-lesson, game or activity on the carpet. Usually 3 or 4 tables will be set up with games or math concept based activities. We rotate the centers depending on interest and what math skills we are focusing on. We often introduce new ones, but keep familiar ones in the loop.
This center time ranges from 20-35 mins depending on the interest or focus level of the children on a particular day. Sometimes Dodo or I do sit at one table and lead a focused activity, but most often these centers are for the children to independently explore. Children should be allowed to practice their working theories on the math concept that they are learning, independently-there can be no wrong learning here! Their exploration and play is their work!
It is very interesting to see how different children will utilize one set of cards in multiple ways. One child arranges the cards by numerical order. One child matches same numbers together and another child matches cards by color. Another uses the bear counters and practices one-to-one correspondence. All ways are correct and productive for their learning and at this point in their development, we do not worry whether or not they are correct with their reasoning. Letting the children explore gives them a hands on approach to problem solving their theories. Encouraging children to explore in their own way gives them ownership in their leaning and builds confidence when approaching new challenges. Children work in mix developmental levels. The peer to peer learning is more effect at this age than teacher to student. Watching their friends demonstrate their math thinking encourages children to try new ways to problem solve. They are being exposed to the big idea that learning looks different and that we can learn from each other.
Current math studies have found that children learn best and become more fluent in conceptual math when they can utilize their own algorithms rather than replicating procedural ways of producing math answers. Spending the early learning years exploring math as open-ended,conceptual based and hands on helps create a solid math foundation for problem solving skills later on.
The children found the Halloween decorations we had tucked away. They were discarded from another classroom and we had planned to incorporate them into a recycled art project.
We could not resist letting the children use the decorations to have a bit of fun and spooky play. We turned the lights out and turned the light projector on. We also cut the eyes from the ghost and jack-o-lanterns so they could explore making shadows and projecting the spooky images on the window shade.
The children wanted to make their own jack-o-lanterns, so we put out some supplies and they independently drew, traced and cut their own creations. We encouraged the children to hang their drawings on the classroom door as decorations. Some children even drew “5 Little Pumpkins” from the rhyme we had been learning. (See video below). So much learning was involved in our Halloween fun!
From time to time we will give the children picture cards or subject cards from our games to draw. The focus in doing this is more about giving them new ideas and topics to draw about and less about fine tuning their drawing skills. Most of our drawing in the classroom is done from imagination and our own ideas. However drawing while looking at images can help develop perspective and practice with forming figures.
The Laser Bugs enjoyed meeting and spending time with their Reading Buddies from grade 4. They were excited to share their Writing Books with the 4th graders. First, they showed them some of their drawings and then they created a drawing together.
We are lucky that their class number is close to ours, so most children can spend time in pairs and only a few groups of 2-4th graders to 1 Laser Bug. When possible we group the students by mother tongue and encourage them to speak and write in the language that they fell most comfortable. We will look forward to building our relationships with our buddies and we will hopefully see them 2 or 3 times a month.