So earlier in the week I posted about feeling like I was playing a game of whack-a-mole. And I was losing. The next day was feeling pretty similar. Just when things felt like they were under control “pop” something happened. I had thought that maybe we’d play one of my favourite K math games, 6’s. I had already played it with the kids a few times and they seemed to like it. I had it in my plan for the afternoon, but quickly realized that a whole group activity was not going to be a good choice.

Instead, I decided to try some simple exploratory math centres. Many years ago, while on a early numeracy team, we talked about the importance of letting children play with math manipulatives before they used them to “do math”. I’ve done this many times – but have always had it as more of an open choice. This year, this group, no way I was doing an open choice (yet). So I got out my handy bins of manipulatives (snap cubes, dominoes, foam cubes, wooden beads and string, pattern blocks, and these little grids and blocks that fit into the grid with pattern cards). I set each bin at a separate table and marked them with a table number (thank you ikea! Then I explained to the kids that we would be exploring the manipulatives and that I would send them to a specific table. I wanted to separate a few Kindersmartens who tended to band together and see how they played with others. I sent the kids one at a time to a table (by number) and thought, this will only last 5 minutes tops before “pop” and chaos erupts….

20 minutes.

They were occupied and happily playing for almost 20 minutes.

I almost cried!!

And not only were they playing nicely and staying where they were supposed to be – they were actually exploring strands from our math curriculum (without my instruction – woot!).

We had patterning.

Sorting by shape and colour.

Comparing size! (Little kindersmarten on the left actually was building 3 towers at one point and making them all “same”, but of course I didn’t get a picture of that!)

It’s hard to see, but the little guy on the left is also sorting by colour. The other two were building and testing balance.

These Ks were following patterns and creating designs (not exactly math curriculum but still awesome).

And finally, these students were working on sorting by shape, size, and colour – all while strengthening their fine motor skills!! Woo!

When it was time to put the manipulatives away, the kids actually cleaned up 😳 and told me that that was fun!

A few were even sad that it was over and asked when they could go to another centre! I’m so glad I took pictures of this little experiment, because we are SO doing this again, and I didn’t write down who was in what group!

Such a happy teacher moment…

But then we had our first fire drill.

At least I didn’t have a ferret to worry about 😫