When someone looks at my daily schedule I sometimes get the question “but when do you do math?”. That’s a great question! I believe in having a flexible schedule. While there are certain parts of my schedule that are dedicated to things like Writer’s Workshop, I don’t have a specific time in my schedule that is dedicated to math.
Wait, what??? Why not! (that’s probably what you are thinking right now).
But, before you start worrying that my students are lacking on the math front, let me explain myself.
I teach math. Of course I teach math! We do math ALL THE TIME! It’s just not blatantly obvious when you look at my schedule! From counting the days on the calendar, to comparing numbers in our daily questions, to how long it takes for us to clean up our epic messes after play time (our current record is 5 minutes – and I think that only happened because there were several play areas closed to lack of cleaning the day before), there is math interwoven into everything we do! Personally, I’m a big believer in integrating math into our daily routine so students can see that math is a huge part of everything we do. How many of us sat in high school math classes thinking “when am I ever going to use this is real life?”, and while there are definitely some stuff I haven’t used since, there is a lot that I have! Most recently I was calculating how much paint I needed to buy for a home reno project, thank you Ms. Lesosky for teaching me about calculating the area of a rectangle 🙂 .
With that being said, while the majority of my math instruction is woven into our daily lives (during calendar, Kindergarten work, sign-in books, play time, etc.), I do do specific math lessons. I have some favourite math games we play as a whole class and activities that students do independently or with partners (I will post more on that in a different post), we read math literature and create our own versions of them, I do have one big math activity I do every year with my students, that I love, and just like my Letter Books, it has grown and changed over the years.
My number book started as a workbook I was given by someone back when I started teaching. It was very similar to the idea of a number of the day, the book had a page for each number from 1 to 10 and students would fill in the blanks with the appropriate number or number representation. I used the template for this book for years. It was always a good resource, but I will admit I didn’t love it.
Why not? What was wrong with it? It was a good resource, and it had served me well for 10+ years. However there were a couple of reasons I didn’t love it:
- It wasn’t very pretty (I know, I know not everything has to be pretty, but if it can, shouldn’t it be?).
- The number formation was done over dotted lines, and if you’ve read my previous post about printing instruction, you know I don’t love teaching printing using dotted lines.
- I felt like it needed more! That little space for a picture was too teeny (especially if you’ve ever seen a Kinder with poor fine motor try to draw a picture of 10 cars!!).
So last year I decided to finally give my number book a makeover! Who doesn’t love a good makeover?!
Besides giving it a new cover (I’m pretty sure the original cover to the booklet was made on MS-DOS), I restructured the layout of the students work space…
I was going to go through what I changed, and why, but now I’m realizing that you probably don’t want to read that! So, instead I’m going to tell you how we do each part of the page!
To start off, I usually show the Count’s number of the day…you know, from sesame street!! The kids love it (and so do I – a little nostalgia from when I was a kid)! it’s short and sweet and a fun way to start talking about our numbers. Then I display the student pages on my Epson board (I have the document saved as a PDF on my computer in a way that I can display the 2 page spread), and with the students we go through the pages together. When we do this, I always try to have manipulatives to show/hand around, to help make it more hands on (like I do with my letter tubs). I have ten frames, dominoes, bead strings, dice, and usually a plate of manipulatives. As we do each section, we talk about how that number is shown with that manipulative.
Page Title: I like to show the students the number word, great to get some literacy mixed into our math! As well, I added showing the number with fingers. For many of my kids, this is the first way they know how to represent a number. It’s a great starting point when we are looking at number.
Printing the Number: Like I said previously, I follow the HWT number formation. With the students, I use the Epson pen to trace over the number talking about the proper formation. Then, I show them doing it independently. One big thing I do here is make mistakes!! I purposely make my numbers too big, too small, backwards, etc (a little hard with a zero, but I’m sure you’ve all seen your fair share of of 2’s that look like 5’s or backwards 7’s). This gives me the opportunity to talk with my students about taking our time and always doing our best work.
Dice: Dice are probably the most used math manipulative in my classroom! We start playing with dice in September and by the time I start the number book, the students are well versed in how numbers 1-6 are represented on a die. When we get over 6, I add a second die to the page and we talk about adding the numbers together to make numbers 7-10 (and the different ways we make those numbers). (apologies for the ugly yellow, it’s the only way I could make it visible…)
Ten Frames: This is another manipulative my students know well! We use the 10 frames to count our days in school. We talk about how many squares are full and how many are empty. I use ten frames a ton through out the school year and they are a great visual representation of numbers! If you’re looking for a good Ten Frame resources I would recommend the Power of Ten or Ten Frames and Dot Cards. I’ve used both for years and they are perfect for Kindergarten.
Bead String: I love using bead strings to introduce adding numbers up to 10, which I will formally do after the break, so having the bead string in our number book is a really helpful way to connect counting to 10 and adding numbers to 10.
Dominoes: My students love dominoes! We use them in our morning tubs all the time, so they are something they are familiar with. They are also great to show the different ways to make numbers.
Tally Marks: This is one of the harder parts of the number book. Numbers 0-4 are easy peasy, but once you get to 5+ then it’s tricky! I sometimes tell the kids it’s like closing your fist as you count (which, yes I know, is the opposite of how we count with our fingers) putting your fingers down and then putting your thumb across your fingers. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to explain it. Hands down, this is the section I correct the most, but the majority of the kids get it by the time we get to 7-8.
Drawing the Number: This is always a favourite part! There is always a lot of freedom for the students to choose how they want to represent the numbers. Many kids will copy what I’ve done, but I love seeing how they see the numbers differently! We do have to talk about doing a quick drawing. If you work with Kindergarten (or really any kids for that fact) you know there are some that will spend their entire work time drawing 8 of the most *perfect* flowers…and leave themselves no time to do the rest of the work.
And that’s it! We go through this whole activity on the Epson board together and then the students go to their table spots and do it themselves. I always leave our collective work on the board for the kids to check. I also leave out the manipulatives in case someone wants to use them. When the kids go to work, I tell them they can do the activity in any order they like, as long as they do all the parts!
One of my favourite parts of this activity is what happens when the students finish their work. The students check each others work to make sure it is complete!
I will admit this totally came out of me feeling overwhelmed by the number of students putting their books in the finished bin, when they weren’t actually finished! You’re probably thinking, “they’re 5 years old Sarah, what do you expect?”. Well, after you go through 25 student number books to check them and discover that 18 of them aren’t actually finished and now you’re going to have to pull kids out of play time to complete them, you’ll understand why I started having the kids check each others work. Besides, I don’t think 5 is too early to start making them accountable!
We always talk about how to check a friends work (note: they only check if they are complete, I do not have them check if they are completed correctly – that’s my job). I tell the kids they are helping me (and their friends) by paying close attention to their friends work. We tell them to check all the parts, and then how to politely tell a friend if they’ve missed something. Now that we’ve completed our number books, the students are great at checking each others work for completion, it saves me so much time, and they really like doing it!!
That’s pretty much it…
well, almost – I should add, I always have the students complete this activity in pencil. I think it’s pretty common place for math activities from a teacher’s perspective, for the kids they are a little confused. I explain it as, in math sometimes we will need to erase, because making mistakes is a part of learning. If we do our math in crayon, we can’t erase. I try to make sure the crayons are put away when we do our number books, but every once in a while someone has mistakenly put a crayon in a pencil tub and we have a full page of purple 7’s! Oh well!
Now…if you’re this far (thanks!) you’re probably looking for my number book…and guess what! Here it is!!
I hope you find this helpful for your students! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!
I have a follow up activity to our Number Books, that I did for the first time this year that I’m going to blog about soon too! Keep an eye out for that!
Thanks for reading!