• David Goldstein

Learning Through Hands-On Math

In our kindergarten and first grade classroom (K/1) we have a workshop model for math instruction. What does that mean? Read on for a glimpse of K/1 math workshop during the first month of school.

Currently math workshop students are busy engaging in a variety of activities. In one part of the room mathematicians enjoy counting, comparing, and building. They create patterns and designs with Unifix Cubes, pattern blocks, geoboards, counting bears and wooden cubes. Several students are building their own pattern cube trains, then comparing the length of these trains to other objects in the classroom, such as the teachers! After comparing, the teacher challenges students to count all the cubes in the train. While counting students are using ten frames to help organize and keep track of their counting. After much time spent on the task one of the students discovers that, “counting will be quicker if we count by tens!” Just like that, students begin learning place value. For more information about ten frames and Singapore Math see our video by clicking here or at the end of this post.

In another part of the room students are creating a classroom student birthday graph with real cupcakes. One student observes, “Look, January has more birthdays than April.” Suddenly comparisons are everywhere; more, fewer, equal. Students continue discussing the graph as they enjoy their cupcake treat. After everyone has documented their birthday on the graph with concrete objects, students create a pictorial representation of this data.

In a third spot in the room, a teacher is introducing dice games. Here, students are practicing subitizing (instant recognition of arrangement of dots without counting each dot).

At a fourth location in the room, students are practicing addition and subtraction problems using concrete objects. In The Whale Game, each child pretends to be a whale and eats fish. They are laughing aloud as they act out addition and subtraction stories using goldfish. When they finish using the concrete objects, they create an art piece to represent a story problem. 

At the Calender a young boy is counting the days of school that have already elapsed. He calls to the teacher, “Look we are 14 days smarter!”

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