Quick post highlighting an activity from Erikson Institute. Check it out !
Quick post highlighting an activity from Erikson Institute. Check it out !
Once a week, I am going to share a picturebook to explore early mathematics. Let’s start Anno’s Counting Book.
I am picking this book because 1) it is wordless i.e. readers have to engage in discussing the book with their audience, as they cannot read through a story, and 2) the focus on mathematics is obvious. With time, we will move towards picturebooks with a more general focus.
The book starts with an empty landscape, with the numeral 0. The next page, numeral 1, includes a house, a cloud, a bridge. One child, one grown-up. On the next page, a second house can be seen, two trucks. And so one until the page with the numeral 12.
The drawings are quite appealing. Page after page, you can see the landscape changing with the seasons, filling up with all kind of items, full of little details that young children love exploring.
There is a neat connection, on the left, to the counting blocks children use often have at school (e.g. 3 blocks on the left) completing the other representation of 3 ( drawing of groups of 3 items in the middle, and the numeral 3 on the right).
Similar items are not always all together, providing support to discuss not only counting, but also adding. For instance, on page “4”, there are 3 birds on one corner, and one more on another corner.
I would encourage you to start with discussing the cover — what do you notice/see? what do you think this book is about? Then, discuss the first picture, focusing on Zero, often left out when counting with young children. Move to the next page. What is different on this page? What do you notice/see? Do you see a group of one? What story can you tell me that would match that picture? What do you think the child is doing? Thinking? And so on.
Simply invite a young child / young children to discuss the picture. What do you see / notice ? What questions do you have / wonder?
Young children may notice similarities and differences (e.g. colors and shades of colors, material, size)… They may count items, by ones or groups (e.g. one box, a group of two carrots, or five carrots on a blue plate)… They may wonder (e.g. who is getting ready to have lunch, why the sets are different) and connect with what they do at school, in the home or beyond.
No right or wrong answer, just an opportunity for young children to engage in discussion around early mathematics.
About PreK Pic here.
Quick post as I am trying to set up a routine to blog regularly. As previously described in two recent posts, I will post, once a week a picture, and a book, to explore early mathematics. But I cannot resist to also post activities and games that may cross my path. So starting on 9/12, please expect PreK Pic on Mondays, PreK Book on Wednesdays, and PreK Act on Fridays : )
In my last post, I provided an example of how a picture can lead to a thoughtful discussion around mathematics with preschoolers. But another way to explore early mathematics I strongly recommend as well is to do so through picturebooks.
Starting next week, I will review picturebooks once a week.
I may pick a book with a focus on early mathematics. Erikson Institute or the DREME network often share lists of picturebooks (here and here). The Mathical Book Prize provides some recommendations. The StoryTelling Math series (here), blending mathematics contents and engaging stories involving a diverse representation of characters, is outstanding.
I will also discuss general picturebooks and how to add on early mathematics. For instance, Colours of us just shared a new list of picturebooks that I am eager to explore. There is also a StoryWalk® in my community that I have found inspiring. Finally, some books will come from my own search, that I select following guidance from Teaching for Change (here). Just trying to ensure that all children can envision themselves as young mathematicians.
Preschool classrooms provide a unique environment to embrace early mathematics, as children learn through play. An activity center is often dedicated to early mathematics (puzzles, counters, etc.) but truly all centers offer early mathematics opportunities, as children engage with dramatic play, build with blocks, etc. Transitions also offer a prime time for discussions around mathematics.
If you are on Twitter, you may have crossed tweets from Annie Fetter, Simon Gregg, Jon Orr, or Christopher Danielson using prompts such as “How many?”, “What repeats?” or “What do you notice & What do you wonder?”, with the idea to genuinely engage people in discussing a picture, a book, a task, with counting, patterns, similarities and differences, raise questions, etc., without any expectations of right or wrong answers. I am a big fan of their work, and, as an early childhood educator, fully endorse such approach with young children.
In preK, a picture with similar prompts can be discussed with the whole class, small group or one-on-one, opening the door to nurturing (and surprising!) discussions around early mathematics. The picture can be used as a transition tool, when children are dismissed one at a time–from the carpet to go wash their hands or pick a center, etc. Teachers invite a child to share their thoughts, send the child off, invite another child to share their thoughts, and so on, and come back to the same picture throughout the week to build up from what the children say.
Let’s jump right in with an example.
My cat, like many cats, LOVES boxes. All kind of boxes. Up to a point that over the summer, my children decided to give her some choices — a comfy bed, and boxes of various sizes. We took some pictures to record her habits, and I expect the set of pictures be quite engaging for young children to discuss.
I would start with the first picture below and use a prompt such as “What do you notice?” and “What do you wonder?” (what do you see or what questions do you have? — whatever works best to open up the discussion).
Young children may notice a cat, some boxes. They may talk about the cat (color, fluffy hair, etc), but also the boxes (e.g. size).
Then I would show them to the second picture, using the same prompts — and follow their lead. They will probably notice the cat, again, but this time, in a different spot.
If they are into it, I would show a third picture. The cat is in another box. Children may start wondering…. Why would the cat sleep in another box? Would it fit in the smallest box, on the right? They may count four beds i.e. 3 boxes and 1 cushion, or 3 hard beds and one soft bed, etc
And so on, the goal is for such a first session is to have them talk, and be comfortable sharing their thoughts— there is no right or wrong answer. I picked that set of pictures to start to that if young children are unsure of what to share with the first picture, the second picture should guide them in noticing something different.
I will post a new picture/set of pictures once a week, so that children get used to the activity, and open up. Teachers can record the children’s thoughts on a board. They can also add on questions to extend the children’s thinking or focus on some learning goals of the program / curriculum — can you tell me more about the cat? about the boxes? How are they alike? Different? As long as the discussion remains engaging and build up from the children’s thoughts, the activity can be implemented in various ways, depending on the setting and the audience.
Let me know how it goes : )
For a few years, I blogged around mathematics and young children. My posts were mostly inspired by my experiences as a parent, exploring with my young children what I was reading and discussing as a M.Ed. student in mathematics elementary education. I truly enjoyed it.
I continued for a while as a doctoral student, until I, somehow, started to lose my voice. A constant lack of time. A mountains of readings. A helpless feeling as I witnessed my oldest child losing her confidence in mathematics once she started upper elementary. I needed a break to reflect, and I closed my blog. With my doctorate now completed, I am finding my voice again.
My posts will be around early childhood education, and early mathematics with the goal of providing matter to reflect through different angles and various perspectives–children, parents, teachers, researchers. Like a photographer, I like to constantly zoom in and out. Zooming in to fully embrace a young child’s mathematical thinking. Zooming out to understand his/her/their position in our society.