Today we had a busy day out, full of nature-watching and adventuring. We started by digging sweet potatoes at a near-by potato field. This is a popular Kindergarten experience in Japanese schools at this time of year, and helps children to understand where food comes from and the cycle of the seasons.
We had a picnic lunch in the park and then spent a long time clambering in a section of hilly woodland in the park. This was a wonderful opportunity for the children to work their muscles and develop their gross motor skills. As the children worked together to help each other climb up and down a very steep slope, they were engaged in problem solving, risk-taking and collaborating as well as supporting and encouraging each other. They spent over an hour developing strategies to help them negotiate the slope.
On the way home we stopped to sketch some of the changes we observed in the park this week. We were not the only ones sketching! There were some delightful exchanges between the Kindergarten children and the more experienced adults, out with their sketch-books and water colours.
Today during free inquiry time, I asked the children to use the time to find out more about numbers or patterns, the two mathematics strands we have been working on this term. Together we brainstormed some of the possibilities, and then the children went off to conduct their investigations. The children purposefully selected materials and got to work. The adults moved about the room observing and recording the children’s discussions.
It was wonderful to see how deeply engaged the children were, and how they were able to come up with investigations all by themselves.
Math Investigations on PhotoPeach
Free inquiry times provide an opportunity for children to practice skills and deepen understanding introduced in guided inquiry times.
Recently some of the children have shown a particular interest in counting larger sets. I was intrigued to see what strategies they would use for counting numbers over 100, and I wanted to see how much they understood about the relationship between ones, tens and hundreds. I told the children that I had noticed that some of them were interested in working with bigger numbers and suggested that they count all the cubes in our math tubs. The children liked this idea. I explained to them that I wanted to know about their mathematical thinking and the strategies they were using, and that I would be recording their conversations. Below is an example of the conversations the children were having.
When we finish all of them, lets put all our piles to together so we are not in muddle.
I got 148
Now lets put them all together
No, lets add them with the numbers (goes to get whiteboard and marker)
How many have you got?
I cant quite remember because there is so much. It’s because everything is in a muddle. That’s why I’m putting them together. I’m making a line. It’s easier if you do that, then you can count better.
Well I counted in twos and it was much easier. But you can count like that in twos, in a line.
Oh yeah, that’s a good idea, to count in twos. Then we can make pairs and count the together.
Will I help you? It will be quicker if we make tens.
Yeah, its easier because this way is very easy. Otherwise if you do it in ones it will be very hard because it will take a very long time.
Counting Large numbers on PhotoPeach
The children conducted their inquiry with very little help from the adults. They were engaged for a two hours, spread over two days. As the children worked, they were:
exchanging and building on each others’ ideas
developing, testing and modifying theories
problem solving and trying new strategies
explaining their thinking as they helped each other
Often, a student will bring something to our morning meeting which captures the interest of the whole group and provides an authentic learning opportunity related to the children’s own experiences. This morning, Saku came to school with a paper bag full of tangerines. He explained that he had picked them with his family over the weekend. The children were intrigued and began to question Saku. They got to wondering how many tangerines were in the bag. I saw a mathematical window of opportunity and abandoned my plans, to follow the children’s interest.
An hour later, the children had:
discussed and revised theories
recorded information in a table
analyzed the information
tested their theories
explained and compared strategies for accurate counting