KinderGals: Are You Busy? No Prep Math Activities

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Are You Busy? No Prep Math Activities

A few days ago I asked this question: Ever find yourself needing just one more activity? Or, ever have to call a Or, how about do you lack the energy to prep one more activity? I'm sure we have all been there. Here's the solution...we need a few "go to" print and go activities that our kids will know how to do independently and require very little prep.
I then shared 4 easy, print and go, activities that I use in literacy. You can read about them here. So, what about math? What are my favorite "go to, print and go, meaningful activities"? Here are 4 of them.

1. All About the Number

This is a great way to develop a deeper level of understanding for each number 1-20.  Over the course of 20 weeks we look closely at each number. It's more than just learning that this is the numeral 2. It about learning everything we know about that number. What does it look like? How can we make it? How about a domino, a tens frame, tally marks, fingers? All of these help the children to develop a deeper level of understanding about that number. They develop a mental image, they can subitize, they know the combinations, and on and on! I make a large anchor chart similar to their recording pages. This is what the chart looks like. (This picture was shared with me by  another teacher who uses this unit in her class.)
There are a few choices here:
1. The kids can fill their chart in as you do it with the class. This is a great way to develop engagement.
2. The kids can do this as a follow up center to record their learning.

2. Graph It!

I wanted to develop  a variety of graphs that I can use ALL YEAR LONG! These make for an easy center because the kids are very familiar with the process.
Here's what they do:
  • Read the question at the top of the page.
  • Move around the room asking your friend's to answer the question.
  • Record their results.
  • Make a graph using their results.
  • Analyze the data.
One thing you might notice in the picture is the graph, there are pictures in the graph. In order for children to be able to answer deeper level questions, we need to work at the appropriate level of instruction. 
  • At the beginning of the year when you are teaching the graphing process, start with "real" graphs.  These are conceptual graphs where we use real objects. If we are graphing our favorite apples, instead of using red, green, and yellow paper apples, use REAL apples. 
  • The graphs in this unit are "pictorial" graphs.  This is the next level of instruction. 
  • If I left the graph empty, and the children colored in empty boxes, that would be an abstract graph.
Let's say we are making this same apple graph at the abstract level. The children color the boxes red, yellow, or green. Perfect. Then, we ask "Who can tell me something about this graph?" A child answers, "There are more red squares." Does that analyze the data? No, the graph was constructed to determine which type of apples we liked. You might want to follow up with, "What does that tell us?" If they give you a blank stare, maybe an abstract graph is not the right level of instruction.

3 . Solve It!

I wanted to develop a variety of story problems using various operations and math standards. When I am doing story problems, I again want to think about "CPA", conceptual, pictorial and abstract.
So often when we are having children solve story problems we ask them to show their understanding by drawing a picture--some are successful and some struggle.  You might want to try this:
  • If the children are learning a new concept, a new standard, a new process, start with the conceptual level.  Conceptual means "manipulate". If children can move the objects, this is the conceptual level.  It might be the real thing, like the apples above, but it can also be toys of the real objects like rubber apple erasers, cut outs of apples, or clip art the is cut apart and placed in a pile.  The children then use these items to solve the problem. 
  • Once, they are successful with understanding using the conceptual level, move the children to the pictorial level. This is where we ask the children to draw a picture to show their understanding.
  • The last way is abstract. Here the children would solve the problem mentally and simply supply the equation or answer.  BUT, children can SOLVE the problem conceptually or pictorially and STILL represent their final answer abstractly.

4 . Measure It!

I wanted to develop a variety of measurement activities that I can use throughout the year. While we do a unit on measurement with direct instruction in large and small groups, I also want centers that reinforce prior learning. I want them to maintain their learning.  The prior three ideas, each were a set of reproducibles that follow the same format. While these activities all develop measurement, there is a bigger variety of activities. 
Here are a few that I included:
  • I wanted to have some story problems that dealt with  measurement.
  • I made some easy sequencing activities for various measurement attributes--size, weight, thickness, etc
  • I made some activities that used nonstandard measurement like this one where they are measuring their foot. These have more of a craft, art connection in an easy to reproduce fashion.
Here is a link to each of the 4 units that I use with my kids.

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