Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Math- preschool/kindergarten

So it's the middle of May, and tomorrow is my 5 year old daughter's first day of kindergarten. Wait, what? Starting school, in May? And I thought you homeschooled your kids...

Yes, yes, I'm still a homeschooler. But in short, our family decided that it would be really beneficial for not only her, but myself and her younger brother, to spend a few hours in a structured academic environment in addition to her homeschooling, and I wanted to see how she liked it for a few sessions so I can decide if it's something we will continue come the new school year to supplement her homeschooling. So I started looking for a private kindergarten, and I ran into a friend of ours runs a Christian school, and said she would love to have us on. 

So with all the preparations for the exciting day upon us, my type A/make a list/structured mama surfaced and I felt the need to dial in a weekly routine. I decided that Mondays would be a math focused day, for no other reason than math and Monday both start with an "M". Clever, right? 

Math is inherently a boring subject, so I'm always on the lookout to make it attractive to young children. But fun isn't really good enough for me; my other criteria for getting an "A" in teaching is
 1.) short lessons (5-15 minutes for 3/5yr old)
 2.) multiple learning tools/styles within the lesson
 3.) including abilities for Multiple age groups
 4.) incorporating the weekly theme (counting flowers if we are learning about Spring)

 So how did I "get an A" with my math lesson?
I started with selecting 4 different tools for different learning styles.

Learning tools:
- Bumblebees/hive diagram (could be anything, like ducks In a pond, just something fun and interesting)
- chocolate chips/candy or beads if you don't want to use food
- number cards
- Abacus 

So pulled out a bunch of unused Abeka counting diagrams another homeschool mom had
passed down to me, and was delighted to see duckies, bunnies, cars and much more. I went with the bumblebees since we have been seeing a few fat fuzzy ones on our walks to the gym. They were really excited about the bumblebees.

Then I whipped out the chocolate chips, my best math friend. I don't like to use food as a 
reward, but my desire for the brain link of pleasure and learning to be strongly established is high on my priority list...so this is an exception to my rule. And I'm not really actually using it as a reward, but as a counting tool. 
A quick story on pleasure and learning: I remember when I was about 4, I went to a reading tutor once a week. I don't remember a single memory about letters or phonics, but I remember picking out an awesome toy to keep from the toy bin. Just sayin'...

My plan was to alternate children one math problem at a time so they wouldn't get bored and could enjoy their chocolate chips in between. So I started the math lesson with using the bumblebees; for my preschooler I placed a few bumblebees in front of him, and asked him how many there were. Then I would let him "feed" his bumblebees 1 chocolate chip each.

Then with my kindergartener, I upped the ante by doing a math problem. She also got to "feed" her bumblebees. The first round I excluded the number cards, and then I added them in so she could see what a math problem looked like. I would make sure to say outloud the math problem "2 + 3= 5", and have her say it too. I would switch back and forth between the 2 kids, so they wouldn't get bored. 

Then for round 2 with my preschooler, I incorporated identifying the number card along with counting. I would place a random number on the table, and have him identify it. Then I would ask him to put that number of bumblebees next to it. And of course he got to feed the hungry bees.

Then as I went back to my kindergartner, I took 10 chocolate chips, and we played around with how we could group them to add up to 10. 9+1, 8+2 and so forth. We had the abacus match up what we did with the chocolate chips.

This whole lesson only took about 15 minutes...so I met that goal. I don't have hard and fast rules, but as Charlotte Mason once said,

 "The child has been doing sums for some time, and is getting unaccountably stupid: take away his slate and let him read history, and you find his wits fresh again. "

 In summary, if your child looks bored, you've lost them and they won't be efficiently absorbing information. This is one of the reasons I love Charlotte Mason's education approach. 

I most definitely was able to include both age groups, and they surprisingly were not bored. I am going to do a repeat of this lesson a few times. 
What do you think? 
How would you make this lesson more difficult?
What other methods or learning styles could you incorporate into this lesson?

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