Sunday, January 14, 2018

Winter activities

Winter is here and we've started learning about what happens in winter, as well as doing lots of winter-themed activities and lessons. Here a few from the last couple weeks!

We've been reading lots of non-fiction books about winter, and using those to kick-start our unit on writing non-fiction ("all about") books.

For Forest Friday, we read a book about squirrels in the winter and played a game called "Squirrels" in which one partner was the squirrel hiding nuts in the fall, and the other was a squirrel trying to find them again in the winter! (Instead of nuts, we used pinecones.) The kids had a lot of fun with this game.

We also got to paint pinecones, which was a great fine motor activity! 

We've also learned some new math games lately, including Cover Up (where one person covers three numbers on a number line, and the other person has to guess what number is covered up) and new pattern block creations.

Plus we've tried to play outside as often as possible, before the snow melted and it got really
cold again!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Garbage: A math game to play at home

One very important math concept for kindergarteners to learn is number order. We hope that they are able to place numbers on a number line, which looks something like this:

We also hope they master what's called "hierarchical inclusion," meaning that they know that numbers build by one at a time. For example, if I said "5," I hope they can see and understand that 5 is one more than 4, and one less than 6, and picture those numbers in order. We do lots of games and activities with number lines and counting to help them develop these understandings.

We also work a lot with what is called a "ten frame." Ten is the most important number in our Base 10 number system, so we spend a lot of time becoming familiar with it in kindergarten (and every grade after that as well). One way for kids to be comfortable with ten is to use a ten frame when we work with numbers. Here is a picture of a ten frame, which is essentially two rows of five boxes.

To represent a number, we fill in the boxes with the corresponding number of dots. Here is a ten frame for the number 6.

We do many games using ten frames at school, but I wanted to pass one along that can be done at home using a regular deck of cards! This game is called Garbage, and it's a great exercise for kids to become familiar with both ten frames and number order.

The game is somewhat complicated to explain in this short blog post, so instructions for how to play can be found here. But most likely, if you put a deck of cards in front of your kindergartener and ask them to teach you how to play Garbage, they'll be able to tell you with ease! We have been playing often, and the kids love it. (One thing to note: You may need to teach them that jacks, queens, and kings can be used as "10s." The decks of cards we play with at school are math cards, so they have numbers written on them instead of a regular card face.)

Here is a picture of kindergarteners playing Garbage with their math partners! I forgot to take any more photos but you get the idea! 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Winter party fun

We had a great week before winter break! It was a bit of a whirlwind, so I didn't have a lot of time to take pictures, but here are a few from our winter party. I hope you all are enjoying a relaxing winter break. See you in 2018!

The weather finally got cold! Here are the kids bundled up, playing together on the playground (pre-snow of course).

We made some adorable marshmallow snowmen! They didn't dry in time to take them home, so we'll finish them when we get back and then send them home.

We also got to decorate gingerbread cookies! My mom and one student's grandma came to help, so every student got to decorate two cookies - one to eat, and one to take home!

We also made cards and wrapped gifts for our families, an ABC book featuring pictures of every student in the class. Below are the pictures that appear in the book!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Adventures in math

Math is an important part of the kindergarten curriculum, and we have it for an hour each day, but I realized I had taken very few pictures of what we do on a daily basis. So I'm finally posting some pictures from math time! 

The math block is broken down into four components: a warm-up activity, a whole group lesson, small group work, and individual practice with math games and activities. Below are some pictures of students during the individual practice, which we call math tubs. Students learn various games and activities that build math skills, everything from number sense development to addition and subtraction practice.

A game called Bicycle Race, which involves both number identification and doubles practice (1 plus 1 makes 2, 2 plus 2 makes 4, etc.)

A game called Spill Ten Beans, which gives students practice with decomposition (knowing how to break down a number into smaller parts) and addition

A game called Garbage, which practices number order and identification

Some practice with number writing and fine motor skill development, using Qtips and paint to write the numbers 1-20

The students also meet with Ms. Thompson and/or me in small groups every other day, where we practice solving number stories in our math journals. These story problems are scaffolded so that students who need more of a challenge work with higher numbers and more abstract story problems. We always draw pictures, use labels, and write a number sentence to show our thinking.

Last but not least, I try to put out several math exploration options each month that students can do at choice time or whenever they finish early on other work. Below is one exploring 3D shapes, in which students are asked to build a tower using various 3D shapes, and then record what they made.