Halloween is a great time to use objects from children’s lives to capture their interests in learning. Educators can pull in several aspects of this holiday for play-based activities, without making it a “theme” within your classroom. In our Full Day Kindergarten room, we have been focusing on the “big ideas” in the FDK curriculum and fitting in aspects of Halloween we find appropriate.
One of the curriculum goals in math is measuring. Pumpkins are a great item to capture the children’s attention at this time of year. We brought in pumpkins of various sizes so we could measure how tall they are, how “around” they are and how much they weigh. We did this activity in small groups so we could adjust to each groups’ learning level.
For all of the groups, we used unifix cubes to measure how tall the pumpkins were. For the students at a high learning level, we first used different lengths of yarn to wrap around the pumpkin and then used an actual ruler (a flexible sewing one that could wrap around it) to find out the length of the yarn in centimetres to introduce them to the concept of centimetres. For the groups who have never done an activity like this and were only being introduced to measuring, we only used the varying lengths of yarn. For weight, we used balance scales to see which pumpkins weighed more/same/less and then we used an actual scale for the children who are at a higher learning level to introduce them to the concept of grams. We used a scale that most children have in their homes, not a scientific scale that older grades may use. We had chart paper with us, so that we could record each group’s findings and post them in our classroom. The picture is one example of the findings. We also drew pictures of the pumpkins and used these pictures to record our findings.
For the rest of the week, we left the pumpkins, yarn, unifix cubes and balance scales in our math centre for the children to continue to explore when they wanted. We also made sure we had small enough pumpkins for them to be able to handle themselves. Tomorrow, we will add a squash for them to be able to compare to a small pumpkin.
Next week, we are having a “Beach Day” at our school. To help our children get in the spirit of summer, we made leis with our kindergarten students.
To begin the lesson, we all met on the carpet as a large group. We showed them a few pictures of leis, and discussed what they are. We then told the students we were going to make our own for our “Beach Day”. Next, we reviewed different types of patterns by using our bodies as well as by drawing shapes in patterns on our whiteboard. We used yarn, plastic needles, tissue paper flowers (easy to thread through), and straws (all white) to create the leis. We did a quick demonstration to the large group so they could watch how to create the lei. Then, we had them create patterns by threading the flowers and straws. Some children did their patterns as a simple AB pattern (flower, straw). Some children chose 2 flowers and straws to create an AAB pattern, and others chose 2 colours of flowers and straws to make an ABC pattern.
It was a fun activity for everyone, and we had the opportunity to review and assess the students’ knowledge of patterns and we can wear them next week to celebrate the beach!
To continue to build on our kindergarten students’ interests in pond life, I made a game that is fun, uses number recognition skills, and early addition skills. The game is meant for 2 players at a time, and should be set up in an area where there is room for the 2 players to move around safely, without other children close by.
I printed off 12 lily pads on green paper. I drew a fly on each lily pads and numbered them 1 to 12. I also added the corresponding number of dots, as well as the number word. This allowed for 3 developmental levels of learning for the children. Some children may not recognize the number, and may need the dots. Some may be able to read the word. It is also a good reinforcement for each child for all 3 levels. I laminated all 12 cards. You will also need 2 dice, preferably the ones with dots, not just numbers.
For the game, each child has a fly swatter. The first child rolls the dice. The first child who can add the dots together correctly swats the fly on the lily pad with the corresponding number. This is why they need appropriate space.
For the first few rolls, I would have to assist the children in the game. But, after that, they could play the game independently and I could make observations about their number recognition and early addition skills.
Yesterday, I read “Seaweed Soup” which is about a turtle making soup, and having to make sets with dishes for his friends, to our kindergarten students.
This morning, a parent came to school with their child and a turtle they found on their driveway that morning. The parent came in and showed the turtle to everyone before taking it back home. For the rest of the morning, all our students could talk about was turtles. One boy asked if we could read the story about the “turtle soup” again. So, I read it again.
This time though, after I finished reading the story, I handed out equal amounts of paper bowls, plastic spoons, napkins and paper cups. We always have these things in our cupboard, in case a child forgets something for their lunch. And the bowls come in handy for art! Once each child had an item, I told them to find other children with the items needed to create the same set that the turtle in our story just gave to each of his friends for eating the soup.
With little assistance, the children sorted themselves out and made the sets. It was a great and fun hands-on math activity!
The children in our full day kindergarten class have really been enjoying the “How Many?” question charts we have been doing. So, to build on their current interest, we added another “How Many?” chart this week.
In our sandbox, we had plastic measuring cups. I took those out and added red scoops and green sand pails. Right beside our sandtable, I posted a “How Many” question.
As a large group, we did a quick demonstration of what the question was asking, as well as reminded the students how to fill our the chart. Some of the children wanted to fill out the “I think” column right away! They can continue to do this activity all week, and on Friday, we can have a large group discussion to review what we learned, and to see if anyone was close in their estimation and what surprised us about the actual number of scoops it takes.
We have been continuing to talk about non-standard measurement in our full day kindergarten class. One easy, yet fun activity for the children was to measure how tall they are.
We decided to cut out circles and tape them to a wall. We also numbered the circles from the bottom up. This allowed us to reinforce the shape, as well as to reinforce number recognition. We created a chart for the students where they could print their name, and guess how many circles tall they are. We taped the chart to a shelf a few feet away from the circles. Once a child wrote their name and recorded their guess, they walked to the circles and discovered the number of circles tall they actually were. The children then came back to the chart and recorded their answers beside their guess.
Capacity is not an easy concept for kindergarten children to learn. In our Full Day Kindergarten class, we have been discussing non-standard measurements. For capacity, we are using concrete objects to teach the students that capacity means “how much a container can hold”.
We sent a note home with each child asking parents to bring in an empty container from their household. We assigned one day of the week to each student to bring that container in. As a large group, we had the children whose day it was to bring in the container tell the other students about their choice of container. On chart paper, we drew the containers as the children were describing it.
We then had all the students help us line those children with their containers up according to what the class thought was the smallest to biggest. Once they were in order according to size, we had the children guess how many pegs the containers would hold. Some containers generated several answers, so we had the children put up a quiet hand to vote on the number they thought and then wrote down the number that had the most hands raised.
After we were done this as a large group, I took the children who brought in the containers over to a table as a small group. We brought the chart paper with us. In this small group, we counted pegs into the containers and then recorded our answers. Once we were all done, we discussed if our “guesses” for numbers were more/less and if any of the containers surprised us with how much/little they could hold.
As I had this small group, the rest of the class went to various other measurement centers (which I will post during this week).
After we were all finished, we met on our carpet as a large group again. We reviewed how much each container could hold. The student who brought in the container had the opportunity to explain it to the others (great opportunity for assessment/observation).
We will do this everyday this week, which gives us a chance to work with each child in the class in a small group.
One of the curriculum goals for mathematics is measuring in non-standard units. So today, we introduced “taller/shorter/the same” to our classroom.
To begin, we used myself (5 ft. tall), my teaching partner (5.5 ft tall) and the EA in our classroom (5.9 ft tall) as our visual cues. The 3 of us stood beside each other and then asked the class who was the shortest and who was the tallest. I also showed them blocks and unifix cube towers to help them visually understand the concepts.
Once I thought the knew what each term meant, I gave a third of our class tongue depressors. I then asked those children to find something in the classroom that was taller than their stick. Once the students found their object, they showed them to the class holding the object beside the tongue depressor and we discussed how the objects were taller than the sticks. Then children then put their “taller” objects away and gave their sticks to the other half of our class. The next third of our class did the same task, only this time, they had to find an object that was “shorter” than the tongue depressors. We repeated showing the items and discussing the concept of “shorter”. We did the same activity with the last third of the class and “the same”.
While I was doing this activity, my teaching partner was writing down her observations for future assessments.
This activity worked as a great introduction to taller/shorter and to measuring things with non-standard units. It got the children involved, so we weren’t just talking to them about it. They were teaching us by finding and showing us the objects.