Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Block Center Solutions - Height Limit

With 10 boys in my class, the block center is never empty. We've recently run into problems with buildings being built too high. I strongly support exploration and creativity and try not to impose too many rules on the children's play, but tall buildings were becoming a safety issue. When tall buildings get knocked over, they hit other friends on the head, slam into the wall, knock over other friends buildings, etc. So we imposed a height limit. 

First, we talked about why tall towers aren't safe. Then, we decided how tall our buildings should be. I worked with the kids to make our height limit ruler. It has worked out great! The kids love to build their towers then grab the height limit to measure it. Great way to introduce measurement and keep our block center safe! :)

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

M&M Graphing

What better way to get kids engaged than bringing out the candy! After all, who wouldn't be fascinated by all the colors and the addicting smell of chocolate. This is a great activity that touches on multiple math concepts. All these steps don't have to be done at one time. If your kiddos have a hard time sitting still, I would recommend splitting the steps across a couple days.

Before starting the activity, take about 50 M&Ms out of the bag. Make sure not to have too many of one color. You want them to fit on your graph.

Begin by counting how many M&M's you have. I transfer the M&M's from one cup to another and emphasize moving only one M&M at a time.

I had a cup for each M&M color. We sorted the M&M by color.

Graph your sorted M&M's. Some vocabulary words to use/explain: graph, column, row, title, more, less, same.

I did this activity during large group, but it can be easily used in a small group. Also, once the kids are familiar with graphs, they can make their own graph for their portfolio.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Find The Worm Game

This week we used apples for a math game called "Find the Worm". This game teaches counting and number recognition, and exposes the children to the concept of more and less. (This is not a concept I expect the children to learn, just something I feel they should be exposed to for success in math later in their education.) 

Setting Up the Game

First you need a worm, ten apples with the numbers 1-10 written on them, a more arrow and a less arrow.

Set them up on a white board, easel, felt board, etc., like in the picture below.

I chose to use this as a large group game. But it would also work great in a small group setting or in a math center. 

Playing the Game

First, explain that the worm likes to hide in the apples and they need to find the worm and stop him from eating the apples. Then, have the students close their eyes and hide the worm behind one of the apples. Have the students open their eyes. Next, we counted the apples 1-10 while we thought about where the worm might be hiding. Then I called students up one at a time to look under an apple for the worm. I would say what number the student chose to reinforce number recognition. If the worm was not under the apple, I would give the students a hint. The worm is under an apple more/less than the number they guessed. To visually expose the concept of more/less, I would move arrows underneath the apples as they guessed. For example, if the worm is under the 6 and they guessed 7. I would say, "The worm is under an apple less than 7." Then I would put the less arrow under the 7.

For the students who didn't understand that they needed to choose an apple between the arrows, I would use my hands to make a wall up from the more and less arrow and tell them to choose an apple between my hands. My 4 year olds seemed to get it pretty quickly, while my 3 year olds didn't seem to catch on. Though all the students loved the game and kept begging to play more. We ended up playing over 10 rounds throughout the day!

Eventually, a student would find the worm and we would all cheer!

This game can be adapted for many different themes. My TA suggested using trick-or-treat bags and hiding candy. 

Happy Teaching! :)

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