Daily Routines Build Number Sense

We have several daily routines that help children build number sense. It is great for kindergarteners to be able to count and write numbers. Those skills are very important to students future success with mathematics. But those skills are more about memorization than anything. What kindergarteners really need is number sense, or an understanding of how numbers work. Number sense involves children understanding concepts of quantity, order, patterns, and place value. Number sense can not be taught by telling. Number sense evolves from a child’s experiences with numbers. Children work with numbers and make discoveries about how numbers work. One of our daily activities that promotes such discoveries and understanding is “Today’s Question”.

20131121-134400.jpg

20131121-134338.jpg

20131121-134414.jpg

Today’s Question is a data collection activity in which the children answer a question to collect data and then participate in whole class discussions about the data. We talk about what we notice, represent the data numerically, compare and order the data, and discuss patterns.

A Case for Open Ended

20131119-181457.jpg

Above are some pictures of the smart things kids do when they are given open-ended opportunities for learning. What do I mean by open-ended? I mean activities that are exploratory in nature, activities where there is no specific end product or right answer. Each approach a child takes is valuable and each discovery they make is equally important.
The pros of open-ended tasks are numerous, one of the most important is that the learning that happens is very meaningful to children. It’s not something the knowledgeable adult shared with them, rather it is their own discovery. To the child it feels like the first time the discovery has ever been made, and in a way it is the first time. For a moment we can all be Nikola Tesla, Marie Curie, or Lief Erikson.

Funny Bones

image
We have been gradually working through our “Amazing Me” health unit.
We explored our five sense through apple tasting. We further refined our senses with a variety of individual work activities such as Braille, matching objects by touch, and matching sound shakers.

Last week we learned about our skeletons. At “play time” some children chose to rebuild our skeleton puzzle and pose sassy ways for a photo op. I did not prompt these sassy poses; it was all the kids. They sure made me giggle.
image

To write on the lines, or not write on the lines? That is the question.

imageIf you have ever observed kindergarteners writing, it is interesting to note the many ways the students use or don’t use the lines. You will see children using the lines conventionally and others ignoring the lines completely. You will see students squeezing tiny letters in between the lines.
Parents may wonder what’s ok.
At this point in the school year, it’s all ok. At certain times of the day I explicitly model and teach letter formation with lines. We call it writing “the kindergarten way”. The children are still exploring and making sense of the lines in a variety of contexts. By the end of he school year I will expect all students to be able to write their names and letters “on the lines”. Many children will also be able to create compositions “one the lines”.
image
image

What is Literacy work time?

Literacy work time is an industrious time in our class. The children are busy choosing literacy work all around the classroom. I meet with small groups to provide reading instruction targeted to the groups unique needs.
image

The special thing about literacy work time is choice. Each child picks their own work and the amount of time they spend on that work before they move on to the next activity of their choice. On a good day, the child stays busy. More often than not, a child has an amazing day. The child has an epiphany about a literacy concept they previously did not understand. Or maybe the child applies their knowledge and invents their own work, adding more meaning to their learning than any work I could dream up.
Case in point. Here my friend B. has figured out that she can type the sight words on her iPad using a white board app. It was B. who figured out how to type in the app, and B. who decided to use this discovery for such a productive means.
image

Hey?!!?! I didn’t teach you that!

image

These kindergarteners have been exploring a white board app. I taught them to use the pens to write their name. They learned to take a picture and edit it with pens. Then they taught their friends.

Turns out editing pictures is a handy skill to have…how else could you draw a mustache on your teacher!

I don’t know if I should be proud or annoyed. Just kidding. I am proud. Yup. Proud.