Monday, February 24, 2014

The tricky teen numbers

We've been studying teen numbers since the beginning of the school year. Teen numbers, which are the numbers 11 through 19, are particularly tricky for kindergarteners (and anyone new to the English language) because their names are confusing. For all the other double digit numbers, we say the name of the tens place first, e.g. "35" is pronounced thirty-five, since the three comes first, "62" is pronounced sixty-two since the six comes first, etc. But for numbers 11-19, you say the number in the ones place first! "Four-teen" actually means that a one comes first, instead of a four, like the name indicates. Since the names can be so confusing, it's important to spend a long time studying them.

Teen numbers are also important because they are the first introduction to place value and our base-ten number system. The biggest message I try to pass onto the kindergarteners is the understanding that a teen number is made up of one ten and some ones. For example, eleven is made up of 1 ten + 1 one. Fourteen is made up of 1 ten + 4 ones.

We explore the teen numbers in many ways throughout the kindergarten year, so that everyone develops a good sense of what a teen number is by the time they reach first grade. Here are some of our explorations!

Exploring what a teen number is
This was our introduction to really understanding that a teen number is made up of ten and some ones. The kids had their own boards that looked similar to this so they could portray the teen number in a more hands-on way.

Snowman Punch
Each set of snowmen displayed a teen number. The kids had to find the right number written next to the snowmen, and use a hole puncher to punch the right one! Let me tell you, learning to use the hole punch was way more challenging than finding the right teen number.

Teen Number Match Up
Each kindergartener was given a teen number, represented either in digits or ten frames. They then had to roam around and find their partner who had the same number.

Teen Number Dance
This is one of my all-time favorite math games. After putting all the chairs in a circle, I turn on the wordless version of some terrible pop song that is really fun to dance to, and we dance around until the music stops. When the music stops, the kids have to race to a chair and begin counting out the number of pennies written on the piggy bank above. You've never seen a group of kids so motivated to count!

This month we are delving into decomposing numbers - particularly the all-important number 10!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

100 Days of School!

Can you believe we've already reached our 100th day of school? This year is flying by! I forgot to post pictures from Crazy Hair Day last week, so I'll start with some of those. Each day our whole class works on coming to the rug quickly, quietly and safely, and if they do, they get a marble in the marble jar. Then when the marble jar is filled up, we get to have a celebration! This time we had a Crazy Hair Day celebration. Here are a few of the crazy hair ideas:

And speaking of parties, we also had our 100th Day party this week! It was an all-day affair with lots of activities. Here are a few of the highlights!

We started off with the first graders, who are learning to count by 5s. Since most kindergarteners are 5 years old, they lined up the kindergarteners and counted them until they reached 100. Then we went back to our room to make 100 Day hats. The hats said "I wish I had 100 ____" and the kids go to fill it in. Here are some of their ideas!

We got to wear these hats all day. Then after lunch, we did more 100 Day activities, including drawing the friends we have been with for 100 days, decorating with 100 stickers by filling in 10 boxes of 10 stickers, and measuring to find things in the room that were 100 centimeters. The end of our celebration involved eating a 100-item trail mix and reading books with some parent volunteers. What a great day!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

With Valentine's Day coming up, we talked about hearts and how our physical hearts pump blood through our body - but our loving hearts hold the things that are most important to us! We looked at another kindergarten class from across the country who did an art project showing what fills their hearts. Then we did the same project in our class! Here are some pictures of us working on the hearts, and then a slideshow of all of us!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February dramatic play: the post office!

Each month I set up a new center in the dramatic play area, which allows for creative and imaginative play. So far this year we have had an apple orchard, a farmers market, a card-making factory, and a puppet show. Now we have a post office! I love play centers that also encourage other academic skills, like reading and writing. In our post office, two kids are chosen to be the postpeople. One runs the post office, where kids can come with "money" to buy stamps, envelopes and postcards. After someone writes a letter or postcard, they put it in an envelope and write a name on the front. Then they drop it in the "outgoing mail." The mail carrier picks it up and delivers it to the right person! This is a really popular center. We run out of envelopes fast! If parents ever come across extra envelopes while spring cleaning, we'd love it if you sent them in!

Check out this busy post office work...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

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...). 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 are some pictures of kindergarteners eagerly playing Garbage with their math partners!