In an earlier blog post, I talked about teaching preschool math and gave information on the 13 math process skills preschoolers develop throughout their preschool years.
Math is something we use and see every day in the classroom. Children are passing out cups of tea in dramatic play (using 1-1 correspondence to be sure each person has on cup). They are building ramps in the block area (using classifying and counting skills as they build). As a preschool teacher, you have the opportunity to observe their play and, therefore, know where each of your children’s knowledge is regarding the 13 math process skills.
Once you know where each child’s knowledge is, it can help you to provide materials and activities to introduce them to other areas of math. How do you do this?
The most basic and simplest way works best! Create a chart! List of the children’s names in a column and list the math process skills across the top row. As you observe your children in play, check off the areas you see them using in everyday interactions. Once you’ve done this for all children (and you will be able to do this throughout one week if your children attend 5 days a week or in two weeks if your children attend 2-3 days a week), review your list.
Are there areas that all your children have mastered? Are there areas that none of your children use?
For example, all your children may be able to rationally count up to 5 items. You notice that once the number of items exceed 5 items, they are not counting rationally but are rote counting. (This would be when they count, for example, 8 blocks. They touch one block and say one number as they count the first 5 blocks.
Once they get to the 6th block, however, you notice them saying two numbers as they touch it. When they touch the 6th block they might say “6,7”. When they touch the 7th block, they say “8,9”. When they touch the 8th block they say “10,12”. What does this tell you?
It tells you that they can rote count to 10 (notice they skipped 11). It tells you they can rationally count items up to 5. This lets you know that you need to provide activities that will help them count more than 5 items rationally. You now have your math goals for your classroom for the next couple of weeks. As you plan activities for math, keep in mind that you want to extend their rational counting to 8 or 10. You can do this through fun, interactive Circle Time activities, during snack time, while cooking, etc.
Once you’ve worked on this skill for a few weeks, look back at your list. Which other math skills do your children not have? Now plan for those!
How you might ask? I have 2 resources for you. If you head over to my Teaching Preschool Math article here, you’ll see a link for a free download that has (and is named!) My Favorite 13 Preschool Math Activities. It has one math activity that you can do in your classroom for each of the main 13 math process skills.
If you are looking for some training on preschool math, you’ll want to check out my Math in the Preschool Classroom workshop. It is a self-study training that will help you to define each of the math process skills that preschoolers develop, learn how to assess your preschoolers’ skills, how to implement activities to support these skills and give you practice planning math activities for each interest learning center in your classroom (because math does not ONLY happen in a math interest enter!).
You can learn more about my Math in the Preschool Classroom workshop by clicking here.
Knowing the math process skills that are developmentally appropriate for your preschoolers to be working on will help you to help them build a strong math foundation. These foundational skills will be what will help them to succeed in math in the elementary years! Focus on this foundation now!
Until next time,
Creative thinking, we are told, happens when we think “outside the box”. True. Unless we are talking creating preschool activities using…well…boxes!
Once upon a time, several years ago, a refrigerator box was donated to our preschool. We all know how rare it is to find one of these for our classrooms! Many big box stores break down their boxes and, let’s face it, it’s not everyday that one of our families will purchase a new refrigerator!
However, purchase a new refrigerator Miss Peggy did, and thought of us! She asked if we wanted the box. Our response? When can we pick it up!
Boxes are a blank canvas for children – and adults! There are so many uses and we can reuse a box over and over again! We were so excited about this box that we even named it!
Meet Re Bo (short for Refrigerator Box)!
The ideas for what Re Bo might become were not lacking! “Let’s make a space ship!” “Let’s crawl inside it!” The teachers had ideas as well! “Oooh, this would make a great Post Office!” “We can use this for a backdrop for our Christmas play!” and so the brainstorming began!
The children were so excited about this box. At first we just left it in the classroom and the children did indeed crawl inside it! It was a fort, and a tunnel, and a bear cave and the “Bat” cave for Batman! The parents came in the classroom for the next few days to find out what all the excitiement was about! We were asked, “Who is Re Bo?” The children had been sharing stories at home about their exciting adventures in Re Bo!
One of the parents donated another, not as large, box for the classroom to accompany Re Bo. It was a moving box. We named it Mo Bo (short for Moving Box!).
With this much excitement, we decided that Re Bo needed to hit the Social Media scene. I’m not kidding – we started a Facebook page for Re Bo. We decided to post about Re Bo’s origins and the changes it went through in our classroom. Re Bo, at the highlight of it’s social media frenzy, had over 50 Facebook fans!
Here are a few of Re Bo’s adventures:
Re Bo became a rocket ship for our Space Theme:
Complete with a porthole for children to look out from! Here is the inside of the rocket ship:
I can’t find the pictures of the ‘Control Board” but the children hot glued milk caps and other loose parts to a piece of cardboard to use as the controls.
Re Bo became the backdrop for our Christmas Theme Play:
And Mo Bo became part of the play as well:
Re Bo had a very adventurous life in preschool, albeit only 6 months! I no longer have the log in credentials for its Facebook page. However, Facebook does keep Re Bo alive by sending me birthday reminders each year!
All this is a reminder to think outside the box when planning for your preschoolers, unless you have boxes donated to you. Then, ALWAYS, think inside the box!
What have you done with boxes in your classroom?