Tag Archives: play in math

Cuisenaire rods ROCK.

Here are some of my favourite Cuisenaire rod tasks for elementary.  There are so many cool things to be done with these materials, I can’t begin to delve into it all here, but start with some of these ideas and see what kinds of thinking your students come up with.  Remember it’s critical to record the numbers to accompany with your students’ constructions – modelling for them how a mathematician would record their reasoning is so very important.  It allows students to formalize their learning and make connections to the “naked math”…  (A phrase a dear friend of mine used to use often.  Attention-getting, no??)

As well, I’ve uploaded are some Cuisenaire provocations — images to inspire creativity that your younger students may enjoy.  To keep the play moving mathematically, try placing one or more of these pictures at the table where students are exploring the materials.  You can suggest they might like to try making something like the image, but it’s much more interesting to simply place the image on the table and walk away.  Your students will no doubt do something with the picture – and it’s oh-so-fun to observe them in action!

Look around your school for Cuisenaire rods – it’s not unusual to find them stashed away in a cupboard somewhere, forgotten.  They are a classic manipulative and one with great possibilities.  If you find them and want to figure out ways to use them, don’t hesitate to contact me.  I’d be happy to provide a workshop for your school staff, or to do a series of demonstration lessons with students across the grades with these versatile materials.

My favourite place to order Cuisenaire rods is through Spectrum Educational.  Be sure to get the wooden materials only – they truly demonstrate the relationships in the most compelling way.  Here’s a link to a class set of wooden materials from their on-line catalogue. For those of you in the lower mainland of BC, be sure to call Collins Educational — or drop by to pick some up.  They’re always happy to help.

Enjoy a lovely weekend.

Carole

Open-ended Problems for K-4

Hello all!

Last week I gave a session for teachers in Coquitlam looking to teach – and assess – problem-solving. We talked about what made a good problem, both in terms of content and wording, then worked through some samples across the grades.  I have posted a selection of problems for you here, which I invite you to download and use with your students.

Remember that it’s important to collect students’ thinking in a variety of forms – numbers, pictures and words, to have them engage with models or manipulatives, and wherever possible to have students communicate their understandings about a concept by translating them to a problem of their own.  The latter is no small task!  :o)  John Van de Walle’s diagram outlines the importance of not only including these representations but also connecting and bridging between them.  Students learn deeply when they transform their learning from numbers to models, from words to pictures, from problems to numbers and back again…

Carole

Story Mats – Setting the stage for number stories

When I work in early primary classrooms, I like to bring interesting counters to play with – farm animals, lizards, insects, dinosaur, frogs and ladybugs are among my favourites.  With these creatures, there are so many things to count and sort and examine – far more than on a standard cube or round counter.  Best of all, these “creature counters” can move – and as the creatures crawl, slide, hop and gallop, they mirror the important action in a math problem.  Traditionally, we understand addition as the joining of sets, and subtraction as the separating of it.  When children have manipulatives that are capable of movement, they can model these actions to tell addition and subtraction stories!

One way to promote this kind of thinking is to provide students with a “story mat” for their counters.  Because I have dinosaurs and lizards, bugs and frogs in my “creature counter” collection, I print off lily pads and farm scenes, jungles and dessert habitats for the creatures to explore.  As the children play, horses joining others in a grassy field are transformed into addition stories; frogs hopping off of lily pads become subtraction stories – all we have to do is to name it for them, and for those who are ready, to introduce a structure for recording their thinking.

I know that some of you have asked for these story mats, so I have attached them here:

addition-stories-backgrounds.

Have fun!

Carole

New Resource available for K/1 Math Classrooms!

Hello, all!

It has been some time since I have made a post here, but fear not – I have been busy in the interim!  🙂

I am very pleased to announce the release of my new book, entitled NUMBER SENSE – A Combined Grades Resource for Kindergarten and Grade 1 Math Classrooms.

As the title suggests, it has been written in support of teachers of K/1 combined classes.  The resource deals specifically with the number strand outcomes from the WNCP curriculum (the one currently in place in Canada), and does so in a way that keeps kindergarten and grade 1 learners together.  The resource includes:

• 12 lesson sequences covering all of the number strand from the K&1 curricula

• line masters for all lessons

• practice opportuntities in the form of games, centres and additional tasks

• ideas for meaningful daily routines – an alternative to calendar!

• assessment tools – both formal and informal

The cost for the resource is $30 plus $4 shipping (for 3 or more copies, shipping costs will differ).

If you’d like to order a copy, please click here to purchase online.

Thanks so much for your support…

Carole

UPDATE:  Thank you to all of those who have bought the book!  A file of select line masters drawn from the resource is attached here.  These are best printed and enjoyed in colour…