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Friday, September 22, 2017

Using Math Mats to Teach Number Standards

Don't you just love it when you find a center activity that kids can, and want to, play all year!? I love using math mats. Once the kids "get it", no need to explain anything! They just know what to do. Keep reading to see how to use these simple games to teach the number standards.

First, let's look at how children develop number sense:
Say the Number Word
The first thing children learn to do is to "Say the Number Word." When I first started teaching we called this "rote-counting". In this stage children have memorized a sequence of words. They do not have a mental image of how many each numeral represents. Children at this stage will benefit from singing songs and saying rhymes that repeat the sequence of numerals.
One to One Correspondence
The next stage in number development is counting with one to one correspondence. In this stage, children are learning to touch each object and to assign a number word to that object. They may, or may not, recognize any numerals at this point. In this example, the child counts the dots on the card. Then, he puts that many pumpkins on the fence.
 When doing the math mats, I give each child 6-8 game boards and enough counting pieces to complete the activity. (I usually make the games with about 100 counting pieces.) The child repeats the one to one counting for each of the game boards. When I made these games, I tried to think about COLOR ink! I made the games both in color and black and white. That way I can pick and choose how I use color ink when printing.  Instead of printing the colored pumpkins, I could print these black and white pumpkins on orange paper.
Or, I could print just the game boards and use these pumpkin erasers from the Target Dollar Spot as the counting pieces.
The next stage in number development is cardinality. This is a word that few teachers have an understanding for. Cardinality means that the child knows that the last number says refers to the total number of objects in the set. The child begins just like above, with one to one correspondence. AFTER the child has counting out the pieces, you ask, "How many pumpkins?". If the child gives you the correct answer, they have developed cardinality. If they give you an incorrect number, or if they count again, they do not have cardinality.
After children have developed cardinality, the next stage is conservation of number. This means that the child understands that simply by moving the objects around on the board, they do not have more or less.  THIS is super important when the children begin addition--more on that later.
After children have developed conservation, the next stage is subitizing. Subitizing is the child's ability to look at a set of objects and tell you how many there are without having to count them.  In the pumpkin game, if the child looks at the set of dots and says how many there are without counting, they can subitize for that number. A child's ability to subitize is developed by children seeing and counting multiple configurations of a number (or a set of objects) many times. Here's what's cool--ALL of the children can be playing this same game. To the casual observer is looks like they are all in the same place in number sense--but that isn't necessarily true! They could be working in any of these stages all while playing with the exact same mat mats and with the exact same dot cards!
Numeral Recognition
Number sense refers to the quantity of objects. When we say "number" we are referring to that set of objects. When we say "numeral" we are referring to a symbol that represents that number! To introduce numerals, we simply remove the dot cards and replace them with numeral cards. The child places one numeral on each game board and counts a set of objects to match the numeral.
Here's another option for saving ink. Instead of printing the colored apples, I can choose the black and white apples and print them on red paper.
How fun are these paper plates I picked up at Target with the Sweet Tart candies for counting pieces? This is another type of math math! I could use this with the dot cards, too!
Numeral Writing
Once children have developed fluency with one to one counting with numeral recognition, they can begin to work on writing the numerals. To do this, simply provide a small container with small slips of white paper. The children lay a slip by each numeral. Then, they write the numerals on the slips.
The children collect their strips of paper and stack them. Using a clothespin, clip all of the strips together. At the opposite end, staple with the stapler. This is a great way for kids to be able to use the stapler without fear of stapling their fingers!
Once the children have mastered the numerals 0-10, move on to the numerals 11-20 simply by adding more counting pieces. Here is another Target find! These cute pumpkin plates are paired with pumpkin seeds for counting!
Number Combinations
These same games can be used to teach number combinations. Simply remove the numeral cards and add in several cards, all with the same numeral. For example, if the child is working on combinations for 5, then you will put enough "5" cards for them to use on all of the math mats. 
***Important thing to think about:
Once the children get to this step, you will want them to have the opportunity to divide their counting pieces into two groups. In this example, there are leaves and acorns. They can put 1 leaf and 4 acorns to make 5. But, if I only had leaves, they could put 1 leaf on the ground and 4 leaves in the basket. This means that you want ALL of your games to have the ability to do this! That way, regardless as to where the children are working, they can all use the same math mats.  (More on this part later.)
Once the children have developed fluency with number combinations for 5, you can take this to the abstract level by having the children record their combinations on a slip of paper. The important thing to remember is that the learning, the solving of the problem, ALL occurred at the conceptual level (with the child manipulating counters). Only then, do we want to bridge to the abstract!
Now the kids can take their number combination equations and staple them together to make their booklet.
Sticking with the same games, we can also teach addition.  Here the kids are putting brown and black spiders onto the spider web to match the equations. Here we are starting with the abstract, but allowing children to sole these equations conceptually by manipulating the counting pieces. Before beginning this step, you will want to call kids into a small group that are ready for addition. Give each child one game board. As you tell story problems, invite the children to manipulate the pieces to solve the equation. Once they understand this concept (it could take 4-5 small group times), introduce the equations. Tell a story problem that matches the equation.  After you have modeled several times, invite the children to tell story problems. Once this is mastered, give each child their own math mats with a variety of equations. Invite them to spread out the mats and solve each equation. Once they have finished, the children select one of the cards to tell you an addition story.
Notice how I printed my webs on purple paper? The game boards are available in the color version as well, but I think the blank and white version on purple paper works great and saves money!
If the children are able to create text, you may decide to have them record a story problem to match one of their equations.
Finally these same boards can be used to teach subtraction. Repeat the same steps as addition just this time use subtraction!
 I made these math mats to go with some bat clip art! But, I found these cute cat erasers in the Target Dollar spot. They make perfect counters. (Hint: I always buy 2 packets of the counters.)
And here is a subtraction story.
Set Up
I use math mats as one on my math centers. Every few weeks I change out the games to keep them fresh. You will want to have more games than kids that will be working in that center. If I have 5 kids in this center, I want to have 8-9 games. This ensures there will always be a choice!
Once the children select the game, they find their math pocket. I keep these in a small container close by. The pieces they need will be inside the pocket.
They turn the pocket over. On the back the children are able to see where they are working. I circle where they are working on it, and highlight it once it is mastered.
ESGI is a great way to keep up with your assessments! The assessments are right on your computer or ipad. I just walk around the room and ask the kids while they are working! It then gives you a score for that assessment.
I love that ESGI allows you to print out a parent letter with the information for everything you have tested!
It will also print out flash cards so that parents can help at home. You can check out ESGI for free! Just go to this link and sign up for your free trial!
Now they are ready to begin. They spread out their math mats, place the cards on the mats, and use the counting pieces to play the game.
Math Attack Bundle 1 contains math mats that I use from August through January.
And Math Attack Bundle 2 contains the math mats I use from February to July.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Measurement Games for the Whole Year

Number is the priority standard in kindergarten! We spend all year developing number sense as we build upon standards.  But, some of the other standard strands, we hit and move on! We probably all do a concentrated unit for measurement, another for shapes, etc. These units usually last about a month, and then, we move on!
Fast forward to next year....our kids go to first grade and this is what we hear the first grade teachers saying, "Kindergarten teachers need to do a better job teaching the measurement vocabulary. These children don't know how to compare length or height, and you can forget capacity!" Suddenly we become defensive! We know we taught those standards! We know our kids mastered the measurement standards during our unit in January. So what happened? It may be that we forgot to MAINAIN the learning. We forgot to keep the standard spiraling back around in our centers. 
This blog post shares some of my favorite centers for maintaining the measurement standards. (While these are centers, they are introduced in small group several times before they become centers.)
How Long Is Your Name?
How Long Is Your Name? is a great game to play all year just by rotating your vocabulary words.  Here's how to get ready:
  • Select words related to a theme or time of year.
  • Put the letters to spell the word and a clip art image in a table.
  • Laminate and cut apart.
Here's how to play:
  • Invite the children to collect unifix cubes to match the number of letters in their name. For example, if their name is Andy, they would get 4 cubes. It is helpful if all of these cubes are the same color for every child. This makes it easier for you to check.
  • Select a vocabulary card.
  • Using another color of cubes, place one cube on each letter in the word.
  • Snap the cubes of the letters together.
  • Compare the length to the length of your name.
  • Record the results on the recording page.
Measure Me!
Here is another fun game that can easily be played all year just by changing the clip art! Here's how to get ready:
  • Collect clip art pictures. Reproduce enough to measure the tallest child in your room.
  • Reproduce a recording page.
Here's how to play:
  • Invite one child to lay down.
  • Lay the clip art pictures in a row beside the child to determine how many it will take to measure how tall.
  • Repeat with a partner.
  • On the recording page, the children draw a picture of themselves and of their partner to show how tall each person was.
**Make the clip art images different sizes throughout the year. This way it won't be the same number of pictures each time!
Which is Taller?
Here is another game for keeping measurement spiraling in your centers. Here's how to get ready:
  • Create a game board with something "tall".  Make a space on either side of the "tall" object.
  • Make a spinner for taller or shorter.
  • Collect 10 cubes for each child, each having their own color.
Here's how to play:
  • Each child holds their cubes in their hands.
  • Say, "1,2,3 break."
  • Each child breaks their cubes.
  • They lay one part on the table, and one part on the game board.
  • Compare for taller and shorter.
  • Whichever child's rocket was "shorter", spins the spinner.
  • If the spinner lands on shorter, than the child with the shorter rocket gets all of the cubes on the game board.
  • If it lands on taller, the child with the taller rocket gets all of the cubes on the game board.
  • Keep playing until time is up. Each child lays all of their cubes on the taller/shorter game board.
  • The one with the shorter rocket, spins the spinner.
  • If it lands on shorter, they win the game. If it lands on taller, the player with the taller rocket wins the game.
Which is Longer?
The same game can be played to compare length! Both of these games can easily be played over and over just by changing the clip art! The children think they are playing a new game, but no new rules to learn!
All of these games are found in the Measurement Game Bundle.
Here are some more Math Games that are great for your centers. These themed units contain games for measurement, but for number standards too! None of the game themes are repeated in the measurement game bundle.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Number Games

According to Marcia Tayte, playing games is one of the 20 strategies that produce dendrites.  Dendrites are connections in the brain. When we grow dendrites we grow brain power!  This is huge! It means...not only will the children be more successful in learning the intended content in the game, BUT they also grow brain power--dendrites. Brain power makes it easier for them to be successful in future learning! How cool is that! Needless to say, we love games! This post has some of our favorite games for teaching number concepts.
Who Has More?
In my childhood, we played a game called "war". Some people might have called it "battle". But, in that game, more was always the winner. We want kids to know that more doesn't mean win and less mean lose.  This game follows the rules of my childhood game, except for who wins!
Here's How To Play:
1. Collect the More/Less Game Board and a set of cards. Turn the cards face down in a pile.
2. Children play with a partner. Each player selects a card from the face down pile.
3. They compare the quantity on their cards.
4. Each player puts their card on the game board according to who has more and who has less.
5. The player with "less", spins the spinner. If it lands on "less", he get both cards. If it lands on more, the other player gets the cards.
Things to Think About:
1. I can play this game, like all of the other games in this post, all year by changing the clip art. The children think they are playing a new game, but there is no time wasted teaching new rules.
2. I can easily differentiate this game.  One way would be have to children compare numerals instead of sets of pumpkins.  Or,  invite children to draw two cards. Add the sets together and compare the sums.  You can do the same thing for subtraction. Now, regardless as to where my children are in their development of number sense, I can play the same game!

Let's Take Turns
Another game we like to play is called Let's Take Turns.  This game is super simple!
To Play:
1. Create a game board with a strip of clip art. Place a different clip art image on the center square.
2. Children play the game with a partner. Each partner sits at one end of the strip.
3. Put a game piece on the center square. The first player rolls the dice and moves the game piece that many spaces towards them. 
4. The second player rolls the dice.  Using the same game piece, they move it that many spaces towards them.
5. The same game pieces moves back and forth on the game board until it finally comes off of one end.
Things to Think About:
1. In this game, the dice is the "standard generator". In this case, the children are using a dot dice. They are developing an instant recognition of a set of dots--subitizing.
2. I could give them a numeral dice and they would be working on numeral recognition.
3. I could give them two dice to either add or subtract.
4. I could give them a dot dice and another teacher made dice with either +1 or -1 on each side. The child would roll both dice and determine the answer to the equation they generated.
Roll, Count, Compare
Roll, Count, Compare is another easily adaptable game. We can change clip art to play the game all year, and we can easily change our standard!
To Play:
1. The children play with a partner.
2. Each child selects one color of linking cubes.
3. The first player rolls the dice and counts that many cubes and places them on any square on the game board.
4. The second play rolls the dice and counts that many cubes and places them on any square on the game board.
5. Play continues until the game board is full.
6. The children make groups of 10's using their cubes.
7. Each child determines how many cubes they have.
8. They place their cubes on the more/less game board.
9. The child with less spins the spinner. If it lands on less, he wins. If it lands on more, the other player wins.
Things to Think About:
1. In this game, the dice is the "standard generator". The dice could be used like any of the examples above.
2. To make the game easier, reduce the number of squares on the game board. This will allow for comparing of sets with fewer cubes than the example.
Number Line Races
Number Line Races is a great strategy game.  To Play:
1. Collect a number line. The one I am using is 1-20, but you could also play on a number line 1-10.
2. Place clip art or other small trinkets on each of the numerals. 
3. Collect a game piece and a dice.
4. The child rolls the dice and moves the game piece (farmer) that many spaces down the number line. In this example, he rolled a 3. When the farmer lands on the 3, remove the clip art or trinket on that numeral.
5. The child rolls again, she rolled another 3. The player must decide it they want to move forward or backwards on the game board.
6. The object is to remove all of the clip art or trinkets from the number line.
Things to Think About:
1. In this game, the children are practicing mixed operations. They are moving from addition to subtraction depending on the direction they move on the number line.
2. Children become strategic players to gain more of the clip art or trinkets.
3. If you want to take this activity to the abstract level, invite the children to record their equations after each roll.
Let's Share
While we often think of division as being too difficult for kinders, we are all wrong! One thing kids hear from their parents and teachers--"go share this with ___".  Here's how to play this game:
1. Collect a game board divided into equal sections, clip art images, and a dice.  You will want the dice to have multiples for how many sections are on the game board.
2. The child rolls the dice and counts out that many clip art images (flowers).
3. The child divides the flowers between the four moms on the game board.
4. They record their answer on the recording sheet to show how many flowers each mother got.
Things to Think About:
1. The number of spaces on the game board can change. We could have divided between 2, 3 or 4 moms. 
2. Once the children are comfortable with this, program the dice so that not every side is a fair share!
All of these games are in the Number Game Bundle.
I have also put our math game bundle on sale. These are the same games but DIFFERENT themes! You can own both bundles, have more games, and spend less time teaching rules!

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