Sunday, February 24, 2013

Math is magnificent

One of my goals as a kindergarten teacher is to give our kids a really good, solid understanding of number sense and -- just as importantly -- to have fun with math. The U.S. lags behind in math scores compared to the rest of the world, and there is a large gap between how boys and girls perform on math skills when they are older. While the reasons for those gaps are complicated and controversial, I do think that teachers can fight against these trends by helping kids learn to love math, not be intimidated by it. Here are some examples of what we've been doing in math lately - both to help develop number sense, and to have fun doing math!

How Big is a King's Foot? Using Standard and Non-Standard Measurement

We started off by reading the book How Big is a King's Foot? which is the story of a long ago king who ordered a bed to be made for his queen. Unfortunately, he told the carpenter to make it three feet wide and six feet long - but the king's foot happened to be much larger than the carpenter's foot, and the bed turned out way too small! So to avoid this problem, to this day, we use a standard "king's foot" to measure everything (aka 12 inches).

To help understand how big a "king's foot" is, each kindergartener got a ruler and searched the classroom for things that were approximately one foot. This was their first time using a ruler so we didn't worry about precise measurement - estimation is also an important math skill. Then we recorded the items that we found.

How Big are We?

The next day, we took the same ruler and measured our friends! This was definitely more challenging, since it required holding the ruler up to their leg, then putting our finger at the end of the ruler and moving the ruler up without moving our anchor finger. The kids were fascinated to know they were three or four feet tall. And every now and then someone yelled "He's seven feet tall!!" Needless to say measuring is a skill we will revisit many times...!

Teen Number Dance with Pennies

Our favorite math activity this week came after we began learning about the penny. I learned about a game that combines teen numbers, pennies, and dancing, so of course had to try it. After lining up chairs in a circle, I put on a kid-friendly dance song, and everyone danced in their most adorable way. Then when the music stopped, they had to find a chair, each of which were equipped with a piggy bank with a teen number on it. For example, the piggy bank might say "17¢" or "12¢." When they found a chair, they needed to count out that many pennies and put them in the piggy bank! 

Here we are dancing...Popular dance moves include the disco and the Egyptian.
When the music stops, start counting!
It was amazing, because you could have heard a pin drop while they were counting, they were so into it!
And then, back to dancing!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

100th Day of School Celebration

Friday was our 100th day of school! We had so much fun celebrating. Here's a look at some of the activities we did:

First we made 100 Zeroes hats! We started with 10 paper strips, and added 10 dots to each one. Working in pairs, the kindergarteners spun a number between 1 and 10 on a spinner and made that many dots on their strip, using a Bingo dobber marker. Then they switched markers and filled in the remaining dots with their partner's marker! My goal was for them to practice combinations that make tens ("I spun a 6 which means there are 4 left!") but I think the excitement about making hats took over the math lesson. :)

Then we decorated sentence strips, stapled it all together, and turned them into hats!

the goofy faced version :)
Then we got to make 100 Day trail mix. Our families kindly brought in a snack item to add to the trail mix. We took ten of each item, put them on our placemats, and then mixed them all up together to eat! Delicious.

Then our third grade reading buddies came to visit and brought along a very fun game! They measured how many times their kindergarten buddy could blink, count to ten, say the alphabet, write their name, and jump up and down - each in 100 seconds. It was a lot of fun. Here is an adorable video of kindergarteners seeing how many times they can say the alphabet in 100 seconds, while their third grade buddies count:

After lunch we got to be guests of the first graders, who needed twenty 5-year-olds to help them count to 100! The kindergarteners are also practicing counting by 5s. This is something families can do with them at home whenever you have some down time.

Our last activity was to put together a 100 Day puzzle to take home and color. By the end of the day, our hats had started to sag and some kids had scrunched them up into springs! Very cool.

Happy 100th day of school! I am so proud of all the work the kindergarteners have done so far this year.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Some group photos that will melt your heart

Here are some group shots of our class! (We are missing a few in each one since several kids have been sick lately.) I especially love the one in front of the beautiful tree on the playground the day it snowed so much. And in the second photo, note the contraption that is towering over their heads - the original reason for taking the photo, but then everyone wanted in! :)