math

All posts tagged math

Cross-curricular planning

Published October 9, 2015 by Mrs. Malo

Meaningful integration deepens children’s understanding of the skills and concepts in each of the subjects that are involved.  Through meaningful integration, children can be encouraged to generate new connections and to explained their existing understanding.  Integration also helps children see how the knowledge and skills developed in one area can be relevant to other areas.

The Full-Day Early Learning-Kindergarten Program Draft Version 2010-2011 page 17

Throughout this series of blog posts I have talked about how slight changes sometimes need to be made in thinking and planning in order for these structures to be used in Kindergarten.  When it comes to cross-curriculuar planning this is an area that Kindergarten often leads the way!  We integrate everything.  Rarely is anything ever taught in isolation.  To give you an idea of how this looks let me explain some of the things that took place in the past couple of weeks in our classroom.  Since the focus of these posts is mathematics I will start with our math unit on sorting.  We read a number of books to introduce us to sorting:  A Lost Button  chapter in Frog and Toad are FriendsThe Button Box, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, and Sort it Out!  Lots of manipulative were put out in our Loose Parts Centre including big box of buttons.  When students started describing things by colours we started to study the primary colours in the visual arts centre and combine colours to create secondary colours (we also learned these words and added them to our word wall).  In our music lessons we were describing famous pieces of music by tempo – fast and slow, which connected to our movement in PE.  We had some local newspapers delivered and while learning about what a newspaper is (Media Literacy) we cut out picture of pumpkins and faces and sorted them.  Finally in science we cut open those pumpkins and sorted different types of pumpkin seeds, squash seeds and sunflower seeds.  Every different subject in our class was integrated making it more meaningful and engaging for our students!

Day, unit and long-range plans in Kindergarten Mathematics Teaching

Published October 9, 2015 by Mrs. Malo

One of more difficult aspects in the move to the Full-Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program is the change in planning.  In the former program teachers use to select themes to base their year around and planned the entire year out.  Long Range Plans were done in a similar way to older grades.  In the new program the students are the leaders.  We follow their lead in their play and inquiry and it is our role as educators to guide them while making sure we are addressing the curriculum expectations.

The team should use inquiry-based learning to build on children’s spontaneous desire for exploration and to gradually guide them to become more focused and systematic in their observations and investigations.  pg. 15

Planning is still very important in Kindergarten, however built into the planning there needs to be flexibility.  The students are the leaders and often the best learning takes place when they are following their own questions and inquiries.

Long-range planning is helpful, especially for new teachers, to understand the ultimate goals for the end of the school year.  What knowledge and skills are students expected to know going forth into grade 1?  What knowledge and skills in the Kindergarten program need to be developed before other skills?  For example before estimating quantities students need to understand that quantity is greater when counting forward and less when counting backwards.

Note: In Kindergarten students are not coming from a previous grade so they come with a wide variety of background knowledge.  Teachers should be very aware of this when planning.

In some school boards a math alignment may be provide to aid with long range planning (Grand Erie Math Alignment).  This can be very helpful in seeing progression through the year and also through the grades.  In saying this flexibility is key and sometimes changes need to be made – this is OK.  Last fall we had a variety of different apples out at an exploration centre.  We didn’t expect students to start comparing the different weights of the apples.  We took this opportunity to delve into a unit on weight.  We normally would teach weight later in the spring but this was what the children were interested in so we got out the balances and scales and had a great engaging study of the measurement of weight.

Unit Planning in Kindergarten is important, but again flexibility is important.  It is very important throughout a unit to have a solid understanding of the curriculum and the Big Ideas.  An understanding of what knowledge needs to be covered is important, however, to ensure your math program is the most engaging for students it is important for teachers to be flexible in instructional tasks.  One example is the unit in our class we recently finished on sorting.  Much of our unit was planned around sorting buttons.  Part way through our unit our students showed an interest in the pumpkins growing in our community.  We continued our unit on sorting however instead of buttons we started sorting different types of seeds, including pumpkin seeds of course.  We were still developing the same skills of sorting and describing attributes however the specific tasks changed.

In planning daily math lessons it is important to use a variety of structures, teaching strategies and groupings.  Traditional lessons including teacher demonstrations and rote learning still have a role in math lessons.  Every day in our Kindergarten class we add a new number to our hundreds chart.  Through this 5 minute routine we are learning how to print our numbers, counting, and patterns in numbers.  Only by lots of practice do students learn number order and how to print and recognize numbers.

When developing more complex mathematical ideas structures such as three-part lessons help students create their own understanding.  A traditional 3-part lessons includes the following parts:

  1. Getting Started (10-15 minutes): Whole class lesson to introduce idea and problem.
  2. Working on It (30-40 minutes): Students actively engaged in a task
  3. Reflecting and Connecting (10-15 minutes): Students share ideas and understandings

In a Kindergarten classroom 3 part lessons can be valuable but they do need to be modified slightly.  With our youngest learners they are very limited in how long they are able to stay engaged in a task.  A large group / whole class lesson can be used to introduce a problem.  The largest change would be in the working on it section.  Sometimes students are given a small problem that can be solved in 10 minutes. Other times a problem is explored during exploration/play time as students choose to visit the centre.  There are even times that a problem is explored over a number of days.  The important part is that students are engaged in working through the problem.  As they are working on it, educators are documenting student work, observations and conversations.  This all is brought together in the reflection and connecting stage.  This can take place at the end of the same block of learning, at the end of the day or at the end of a number of exploration blocks.

In conclusion, effective and purposeful mathematics planning is very important in Kindergarten teaching but it always needs to be flexible and adaptable to student developmental needs and interests.

Kindergarten Pumpkin Activities

Published November 8, 2011 by Mrs. Malo

Last week we finished up our study of pumpkins in my Kinderoo class.  I thought I would share a few of the activities we did.  I started with a google search for ideas and came across a great blog from Mrs. Nelson’s Class.  The one item is borrowed from this page was their awsesome Science Pumpkin Observation Sheet.

I started the unit by having all the kids sit in a circle on the carpet and I put a pumpkin in the middle of the circle.  I didn’t say much and let them start the conversion.  They first started asking where it came from and we discussed where you can get pumpkins.  I grow my own pumpkins so this branched into a discussion of growing pumpkins.  From here we introduced the word ‘observations’ which has become our BIG word in science.  I handed out the pumpkin observation sheet.  Each child drew a picture of what our pumpkin looked like and made a decision as to whether they thought it was big, medium or small.  On the back of our sheet we also recorded it’s weight (8 kg) and diameter (77 cm).

The next day when they came into school I had set up our ‘pumpkin patch’ in the science centre (sorry I forgot to take  picture).  I had gone to our best local fruit stand and purchased a wide variety of pumpkins in size, shape, colour and texture.  I arranged them all on a green table cloth to constrast the colours and make it look like grass.  On the science wall behind the patch I put a pumpkin patch sign along with a number of descriptive words: big, medium, small, orange, white, smooth and rough. For activity I placed a bin with a number of  pumpkin observation sheets and pencils next to the pumpkin patch.  Students were encouraged to visit the science centre and make their own observations on the different pumpkins present.

To go along with our pumpkin study we learned about the colour orange.  We have been learning our colours and I carefully timed orange so that it would coincide with our pumpkin study.  We learned our orange song and practiced it throughout the week. This was also sent home as homework at the end of the week.  I also have worksheets available for interested students to reinforce the colour.  Once we had learned the colour orange we also added to our observation sheet that pumpkins are orange.  As an art activity I gave each child a paper plate and a drop of yellow and red plate.  I asked them to paint their paint orange – a great exploration activity.  Once they were all dry we added faces and made our pumpkin patch on our bulletin board in the hallway.

After thoroughly observing the outside of the pumpkins it was time to cut one open.  Before cutting it open everyone made a prediction of what they thought it would look like on the inside on their observation sheet.  We cut it open and recorded our observations. I made a chart with pictures of: and eye, ear, nose, mouth and hand.  We used our five senses to record our observations.  I took the seeds home and cleaned them and dried them out.  I added to the pile the seeds I had at home from my own kids jack-o-lanterns and I also took some from my brother-in-law (who carves very cool pumpkins on Halloween).  At the next class we made our pumpkin observation booklets to record our observations from the inside of the pumpkin.

I had precut the orange construction paper for them and glued in the observation sheet.  Each student was given a piece of wool and a handful of seeds and asked to make a representation of the inside of the pumpkin.  Then they used the observations that we made as a class and recorded one observation for each of the 5 senses (they wrote ‘no sound’ beside the ear as we didn’t hear anything).

Math: When we started this unit we had just begin our lessons on counting and number recognition in math so I wanted to keep the math lessons as simple as possible.  Because of this, and the large number of seeds that can be inside a pumpkin, we didn’t do any estimation of the number of seeds in a pumpkin.  Instead my teacher partner gave me the perfect activity that fit very nicely to what we are targeting in math right now.

Each bag had a number of dots that corresponded to the the number in the upper left hand box.  Students were to glue pumpkin seeds on each dot and then count the number in each bag.  This was a bit time consuming but a great activity.  If I was to do this again I would give my more advanced students a sheet without the dots and they would have to determine the number of seeds in each bag.

Literacy:  In one of our literacy centres I had large pumpkins cut out of orange construction paper and I wrote on them the first 12 Jolly Phonics letters that we have learned.  Students had to pull a letter out of a bag, say the letter name and sound and match it to the corresponding letter on the pumpkin.  If this was easy for them they were to say a word that started with the letter: eg – s, sss, snake.

Everything in our unit went very well – and I love it when everything integrates so nicely!

China Festival Family Style – Introduction & Research

Published May 17, 2011 by Mrs. Malo

If you have been following my Literacy Tuesday blogs you will know that we were reading a number of alphabet concept books.  One of the books we read was D is for Dancing Dragon – A China Alphabet by Carol Crane and Illustrated by Zong-Zhou Wang, and if you are interested in the book I commented on it at my library blog.  This book was the jumping off point for our China day.  From here we found a research idea, crafts and decorations to make, and food we had to include in our celebration.  I am not going to try an include everything in one  blog post, instead I am going to try and group what we did preparing for the day and on the day itself, into a few blog posts.

The past few years I have worked as a teacher-librarian and one of the main focuses has been to teach students how to learn for themselves.  This  was the first opportunity I have had to directly teach my own children research skills, well Kaitlyn was the only one actually researching, Eileen just was along for the ride.  We started by reviewing the letter P in our alphabet book – The Giant Panda.  We started this on a literacy Tuesday so I printed off some P worksheets and colouring pages for an introduction.  Kaitlyn particularly liked the P wordsearch and I appreciated that it was the perfect level of difficulty for her.  Eileen made an attempt to trace the P letter pages I gave her, which is a big step for her.  They both coloured a few printable pages, and Kaitlyn even made an effort to colour the correct colours in the correct places.

Because my kids respond to hand-on crafts, we made paperbag panda puppets.  I found many different templates online but we chose the one through Circletime kids.  They were very easy to make. Kaitlyn did hers all herself and I helped Eileen cut out her pieces but she did most of the gluing.  A quick and easy panda craft

The final part was to learn a bit more about Pandas.  I picked up a number of panda books at the library, both fiction and non-fiction but before I let the girls look at them I told them they had to come up with 5 questions they wanted to know about Pandas.  I first introduced the concept of an endangered species and the definition of extinct.  The example of the dinosaurs being extinct is easy for them to understand.

Kaitlyn’s Research Questions:

  1. Why can’t we have a panda as a pet?
  2. What do they eat?
  3. Do they live around people?
  4. Do they run or walk?
  5. How long do they live?
  6. Why are they endangered? (O.K. this last one was Mommy’s question)

I thought they were pretty good questions.  We used our books from the library to find the answers.  I read the books to the girls and Kaityn stopped me everytime there was an answer to one of her questions.  When we were done we made a Giant Panda poster and picked pictures that answered some of the questions.  For example she learned that Giant Pandas like climb so we made sure to include a picture of a panda climbing.

I decided to try and take it one step further and introduced some social awareness to Kaitlyn.  After discussing endangered animals and the possibilities of extinction we started to talk about what we could do to help.  We discussed the WWF and decided to have a donation jar at our Chinese festival.  She let our family who was coming know of the jar and she collected $13.87 in loose change and her Aunt & Uncle also made a symbolic adoption in her name.  Mommy and Daddy added to the $13.87 to make another symbolic adoption.  One small step to start raising the idea of making a positive impact in the world.  We even got a bit of a math lesson out of it sorting all the coins.

And what is a party without party favours!  I found a seller  through ebay who sold Chinese parasols.  For my cousin’s son who was at the party I got him a small dragon puppet.