There is a new series of books called “Math in Nature” which journeys into the natural world. The wonders of nature are shown in vibrant cut paper collages that focus on important mathematical concepts. Each season focuses on an area of mathematics. There are many ‘What if?’ problems presented in the text.
On the day before Halloween (can you believe it!), 60 primary teachers gathered at DEC to discover and experience activities that promote number sense with Chris Hunter and myself. We emphasized the importance of differentiating the activities to meet the need of the students. Assessment for learning is another important aspect to consider when doing these activities with students. Ask yourself: What do I want the students to know, understand or be able to do?
Here are some of the activities that extended from the ideas in the book:
1. Guess, Check and Estimate – (focus on estimation, referents and skip counting)
Ask the students take a collection of objects and lay them on the bare tree
Ask the students to ‘estimate’ how many objects are on the tree board
Ask the students to make a ‘referent’ of 2, 5, or 10 and pull it away from the total collection
Ask the students if they would like to revise their estimation (after seeing the referent)
2. Bat Cave Pattern – (focus on patterning)
What patterns do you see?
How could you model the patterns using Cuisenaire rods? (or other materials)
Some students may need to lay rods directly on the book.
Some student may need to be challenged by changing the number of bats sleeping in each row (increasing by 2)
3. Making Ten Story Mats – (focus on partitioning and number operations)Ask the students to count out a quantity of 10 objects.
How many different ways can you make 10 in two parts?
What stories can you tell about your story mat? (I counted 5 leaves on the ground and 5 floating in the sky. How many leaves have fallen from the tree?)
What equations can you write about your story?
4. Roll, Build and Compare – (focus on comparing quantities…more/less/the same)
Ask the students to work with a partner.
Each partner rolls a 10-sided die and builds the quantity rolled on their 10 frame.
The partners compare their quantities. Who has more? less? Are they the same?
Ask the partners to determine how many more or less.
With Halloween just around the corner , I stopped by the neighborhood ‘Dollarama’ to get inspiration for some Literacy and Numeracy centres. It was amazing what I discovered. Here are some of the materials and ideas that were generated by the Early Literacy and Numeracy teachers that I am so lucky to work with.
One of the most frequent requests I get asked in my job is “Do you have an ideas for Literacy/Numeracy centres?” Teachers are often looking for ideas to incorporate into their balanced Literacy and Numeracy programs. When setting up Literacy or Numeracy centres the focus should be on providing opportunities for children to explore and develop understanding with concepts that have already been introduced. Students should be given choices of tasks that will enable them to solve problems, use reasoning skills and communicate their understanding.
Centres can provide a wonderful mean to differentiate instruction for our students. ‘One size does not fit all!’ is one of my important messages these days. Students have different learning styles, interests, personalities and needs.
As a result of these requests, I have developed ‘seasonal’ Numeracy and Literacy centres. Since the last 6 years of my career I have focused on Numeracy, I was able to create kits for three seasons (Falling into Math K -2 Winter Math Fun K- 2, Spring into Math K – 2, and Sliding Into Math- Building Fluency Games). So far for Literacy I have created Winter Literacy Bliss.
These centres were developed to give teachers some ideas to use in their classrooms to provide problem solving tasks, authentic practice, and assessment for learning. When planning for Literacy or Numeracy centres, always consider the ways they will meet the needs of your students and how you will assess their learning to inform your instruction. It is not about how ‘cute’ the centres are. Let me know what you think about the centres!