Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

Start of Something New

This week was our first chance to work with both of the kindergarten classes doing activities that we had designed in order to develop their number sense. We were all very excited to begin and the students were equally as excited to see their math teachers return once again. It’s hard not to smile when you’re working with the kids because their excitement and eagerness to learn is contagious. During the first week of the term, we spent a lot of time assessing the students to find out what they already know, and also deciding how we would like to structure each of the classes. Ultimately we decided that we would split the students into groups based on abilities and that we would each work with a group for a couple weeks and then switch, so that all of the students each got a chance to work with all of their “math teachers” and so that we could each experience the children who are progressing at varying levels. We also decided that we should work with the same ability group in both classes so that we could use similar activities and so that we could notice things about students during that stage of development. Something I’m most looking forward to is to see how the students will progress with more individualized attention as well as the strategies and activities that will work best when teaching the students.

The group that I have begun working with is the intermediate group and within the group there is a lot variability. For example, I have some students that can count to one hundred and can write their numbers (even if they are sometimes backwards) from one to twenty. On the other hand, I have students that cannot count to fifty and still struggle with one to one correspondence when counting. Once I work with the students some more, I will more effectively be able to group the students and differentiate their activities to fit the level they are at. I’m also trying to plan future instruction by gauging the effectiveness of the activities that I am doing and how engaged the students were during the lesson. On Tuesday I was working with Mrs. Petersons’ class and I wanted to begin by doing an activity that revolved around writing numerals. During the lesson students were given sheets of paper that were covered in sheet protectors and that had the numbers typed on them. Each number had a green dot on it and a red dot on it, indicating to the students where they should start writing their numbers and where they should end. Something that I noticed when I was assessing the students is that a lot of them like to write their numbers from the bottom of the page. I thought this activity would be a helpful tool to reinforce the way that they should be writing their numbers. The dots were extremely effective because they were a constant reminder of where they were supposed to start. Halfway through the activity, one of the students started to write the number starting at the red dot. Instead of telling her that she wrote the number incorrectly I simply asked her, “What color dot do we begin writing our numbers at?” In response the girl erased her number and began to write the number starting at the green dot. I found those visual reminders to be very helpful to the kindergarteners and they understood the concept of “green means go” and “red means stop” because “that’s the way stop lights work.”

Another strategy that I found to be particularly effective was the rhymes that I used to accompany each number. For example, when the kids were writing the number five I would say, “go across, then take a dive, around the bend, and that’s a five.” Eventually the students started saying some of the rhymes by themselves without me prompting them. One girl in particular was struggling with the difference between the numbers nine and six. She always drew the number nine when asked to draw the number six until I taught her the rhyme for nine. It goes like this, “make a loop and then a line, that it how you make a nine.” It was amazing to me that all it took for her to draw those two numbers correctly was a one line rhyme.

On Thursday I worked with students from Mrs. Carmack class and focused on number recognition and the concept that numbers represent quantities. The students were excited to learn because I had brought several games along. The first game that we played was a card game. Each student was dealt four cards and the idea was, when a card was flipped up the students had to identify what the number was and if they had a card in their hand with the same number on it they were supposed to be it into the discard pile. Whoever got rid of all of their cards first was the winner. The game went relatively smoothly and the only hiccup was that a majority of the students were having trouble identifying the difference between the number six and nine. I think the confusion stemmed from the cards, because from different angles, some of the nines are turned upside down and can be mistaken for a six. The students were able to recognize the number though if I held the card up in its correct orientation. The next game we played was matching cards with numbers on them and quantities. During this activity I got really excited because some of the students were recognizing patterns. One the quantity cards there were stickers and I made sure to put them in patterns. For example for the number six there were two groups of three stickers. When it was one students’ turn to match a number to the quantity he matched the number eight without counting the stickers on the quantity card. I asked him how he knew that was eight without counting and he said, “Miss Jackie there are two groups of four.” I was unbelievably excited that he was able to make this connection and that he is beginning to notice patterns like that.

Overall it was a very successful week with the kindergarteners and I’m extremely excited to continue working with them!

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