Looking to incorporate math concepts into natural activities for young children?
The morning question works really well with young children.
Before we start school I take a photograph of each child. I use this all around the room making name tags and mailbox labels, etc. One of the things I make is a photo magnet for each child and teacher. They sell business card magnets in packs at Staples.
We have metal fire doors, so we put the magnets on the door each morning. When the children come in from the playground each morning, they take their magnets off the door and answer the questions posted on a dry erase board.
It starts off simple with questions such as are you a boy or a girl and gets more elaborate such as how many letters are in your name.
When we gather for group time we answer several levels of questions regarding the graph. First I ask the children what they notice. Some predict which side has more or that one section might be empty. Then we count how many magnets are in each section of the graph. Once counted we discuss concepts such as more or less, fewer, most, etc. I also ask them to use the information on the graph. Can you tell from this graph how many sisters Johnny has? How many sisters does Max have? How do you know? Do you think bananas are a good snack choice for this class? why or why not? Should we make blueberry muffins again? How did you get that answer? So children are learning to process the information in several different ways. The children also write the numbers on the white board after counting giving each one a quick lesson in numeral writing when it is his/her turn. But this is not isolated exercise. It has meaning to the children as they are interested in the answers.
We have even used this activity to help us with some of our social issues. When we were having some trouble with the boys vs. the girls, we asked questions about what toys they like to play with each day. Then we talked about how both girls and boys chose blocks, or dramatic play or the outdoor kitchen. Or both boys and girls had a favorite stuffed animal.
We used this graph to critique our cooking projects and to vote on decisions in the classroom.
Towards the middle of the year, the children started to play with the graph during activity time changing the question and reenacting the graphing discussion with their peers as they played school.
Many would suggest questions to be posted the next day for the class. It became a community effort.
This is a very simple way to incorporate math into every day in a natural, intriguing way that accesses many of the different levels of questions on Blooms taxonomy. All you need are some magnets and a white board.