Friday, 11 January 2013

Shapes and Mathematical Language

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Well, this week was my first week back from Winter break and after being back at school for only a short time, it was like we had never left.  The kids fell back into routine easily, and it seems as if, in the two weeks we've been gone, they've grown so much.  They could sit and attend longer to stories and lessons, some had lost a few teeth over the break, and they even looked taller!  Since we don't start back with Guided Reading until next week, we had a little bit of time to do some fun stuff as a class.  One thing we did was Khrys Bosland's get to know you activity called Find Someone Who.  The kids had so much fun finding a classmate who fit the criteria, they practised asking questions and they had to wait their turn (if they wanted to ask a friend a question but that friend was busy with someone else!).   Another thing we did was brainstorm and share our New Year's Resolutions, or as we called them - things we want to do or learn this year.  The kids were so in tune with things they do well, and things that they want to learn to do.  Many kids said things like learn to read harder words or more books, tie their shoe laces, get better at the sport they play, ride a two-wheel bike, and learn to swim, skate and dive in a pool.  I love their drive to learn!!!  We did a shared writing activity where all the red marker is their writing and all the blue marker is mine.  They did so well with this as they are now able to hear beginning, middle and ending sounds when sounding out unfamiliar words.  My mom, who is a retired kindergarten teacher, taught me this little rhyme to help students with sounding out words:  "Listen, listen, loud and clear, what's the (first) sound that you hear?"  Repeat the rhyme but substitute the word first for 'middle' or 'last'.  I used to say this all the time at the beginning of the year to prompt them, but now most of the kids are SO good at saying the word slowly and writing what they hear independently.

In math, our focus right now is 2-D shapes.  We started by sorting shapes of different colors and sizes and we talked about what is a 2-D shape.  I have a math wall, (well, it's more like a math shade)...when there are no walls left one must get resourceful!  The math wall is called 'Math Matters' and for every strand that we do, I post mathematical definitions and examples. 
 (this is how I currently display my math wall, but I can't wait to print out my new posters from my pack)
This is how I like to start my units because math language is so important.  It's not enough that students can create patterns, they should understand the process that a pattern repeats and be able to label or name various patterns.  With sorting, it's not enough that they can sort, but they should understand the process behind what they do.  That sorting is putting objects/things into different piles/groups based on a characteristic that is the 'same,' or based on a 'rule.'  When graphing, they not only need to be able to create a graph, but also interpret it.  I don't only ask what is the most or least, but how do you know what the most/least value is?  They need to be able to explain their thinking, which is why I am always asking the kids 'how do you know that?'  This focus on math language is carried up into higher grades, and into Province wide testing where students are frequently asked to explain their thinking in math with pictures, numbers and words.  It's so important that students have the vocabulary to explain their thought processes in math which is why I've created a pack of math posters to highlight key terms, definitions and examples.

  Back to after we sorted our shapes and talked about the characteristics of 2-D shapes (they are flat), we looked at each shape and it's characteristics, that is how many flat sides and corners, or vertices, it has. We discussed why squares and rectangles both have 4 sides and 4 corners/vertices but look different.  It was difficult for the kids to express this.  Many students said the square has short sides and the rectangle has long sides, but through prompting and discussion we spoke of sides that are equal versus short and long sides.  The kids completed some activities at their centres:

Going on a Shape Hunt.  I made this worksheet some time ago.  My mom also taught me this little rhyme "Look up, look down, look all around, and a square will soon be found."  Repeat the rhyme for various shapes.

Click on the picture below to get your free copy of the Shape Hunt activity.

We also did Shape rubbings...

...and made shape headbands (sorry, I forgot to take a picture).

Well, it's that time of year card time!  I have 40 reports to write (yes, 40!) I teach alternate day kindergarten so I have 2 classes.  One class of students comes Monday/Wednesday (20 kids), and the other class comes to school on Tuesday/Thursday (20 kids), and then they alternate the Fridays, so I'd better go start my reports!  Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad that you were able to use my Find Someone Who freebie with your kids! I hope they had fun with it :) your first week back sounds like a blast. Love the shape rubbings - so cute!