Pinterest as a Resource

Pinterest is a valuable resource for parents and teachers, as it generates a wide range of ideas and lessons that are easy to understand and adaptable to various learning environments. Here we explore two activities that were discovered on Pinterest.

Reggio inspired math invitation:

rocks

This invitation allows children to learn through play while using natural materials. It is also conducive to exploration in a variety of math concepts. Along with creating different shapes by rearranging the rocks, children can create patterns with the rocks or in the sand, draw shapes in the sand, or even practice one-to-one correspondence with the rocks (an educator can even draw a ten frame in the sand!). Click here to view more Reggio inspired invitations!

STEM:

STEM

As discussed in my blog post titled Geometry Blogs, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) activities are very important for children to explore and geometry as well as spatial thinking are underlying themes within the STEM disciplines. The above activity, which can be seen in full by clicking on the picture above, is an excellent example of the relationship between geometry and STEM. Children see buildings in their daily life, whether it is their school, their home, or the buildings they see on the way to school from home. This activity encourages children to think about the various ways that a building maintains it’s structure. Why are many buildings shaped like rectangular prisms? How do they stand on their own? Why are pillars shaped like cylinders? By experimenting with which 3D shapes can hold the most books, children are learning about the basic structure of shapes, as well as engineering and even architecture!

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Geometry Blogs

Blogs are an excellent resource for teachers and parents where they can discover a multitude of math related activities that are easy to implement. Two blogs that are useful for teaching geometry in the early years will be discussed in this post.

Happiness is Heresolidshapes

This blog features a page (click above image) that chronicles a child’s discovery of a math invitation. A child is invited to use sticks and balls to recreated 3D shapes. Children benefit from having the opportunity to construct and deconstruct various structures, as they are able to see the smaller units and shapes that make up the structure. For example, when constructing a triangular prism, the child begins by creating the sides of the 3D figure, discovering that it consists of two triangles and three squares. This child is also discovering the relationship and similarities between various two and three dimensional shapes. Another page in this blog provides various images of math invitations. The first two images under the header “Building” present more wonderful examples of learning through play. The plastic shapes seen in the first image allow children to view the transformation of 2D structures into 3D structures and the light allows children to see through the shapes. The blocks in the second image are also translucent and colourful so as to engage children and promote geometric learning through play. Here are more examples of block play that promotes the learning of geometry and other math concepts!

Kids Activities Blogblog 3

This math blog provides age appropriate activities and games for various subjects and is categorized by grade. The blog outlines skills that children learn in each grade and has a corresponding game for each skill. This blog has lessons, such as Learning Shapes with Blocks (click above image), on a range of topics. Children benefit from learning through their senses and the Learning Shapes with Blocks lesson allows them to do so. Touching shapes without looking at them is an important exercise as it allows children to think about what various shapes feel like and encourages them to form a mental image of each shape. Furthermore, it helps children identify the various attributes of each shape, as they touch the sides, faces, and corners of different shapes. The site also has lessons on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects. Geometry and spatial reasoning underlie the type of thinking that occurs in the STEM subjects, as well as many others. As is evident in this STEM activity, geometry and STEM are quite interconnected. The children learned about engineering as they built their own globes out of straw triangles. Click here to view the site’s homepage and explore what it has to offer!

Practical Guide

This practical guide will focus on geometry and outline resources that educators can use when implementing this math concept in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. This guide can be used for primary school children as well.

  1. Building Blocks is a math curriculum for early childhood created by Douglas H. Clements and Julie Sarama (2011), along with a group of preschool teachers. This is an excellent resource as it outlines learning trajectories, which serve as a guide on how to teach various math concepts. Learning trajectories create a goal for children in their learning of a math concept, lay out steps for how children will strive towards the goal, and provide instructions on how children will progress through these steps (Clements & Sarama, 2011).
  2. Teachers can use graphics in the classroom as a resource to help students understand the concept. Displaying shapes on the walls and labeling them in the various languages spoken by students or student’s families would be an effective way to include children who are bilingual.
  3. Provide children with a number of examples of each shape. For example, if children are playing with triangles, they should be provided with triangles whose sides are of varying lengths and angles of varying degrees. This way, children will not have a limited idea of what shapes can look like.
  4. Provide a variety of materials in the classroom with which children can explore geometric concepts through play. Examples of materials are play-doh, as children can mould it into various shapes, marshmallows and straws, as students can created shapes with straws and use the marshmallows as glue, paintbrushes, canvases, markers, crayons, and paper, with which children can practice drawing lines and shapes. These types of materials are also beneficial for students with special needs or those who require accommodation as they are very manipulable and can be used in various ways.
  5. Books are very beneficial in teaching children about geometry. Age-appropriate stories that have engaging narratives and images can help children retain information. When books involving shapes, objects, and figures are incorporated into the story, children are learning about geometry. Inviting students’ family members to read stories to the class is a nice way of including them in their children’s learning.
  6. Tangrams, which are seven piece puzzles made of various shapes, are another great resource. They allow students to create their own images with limited restriction and children can then see the various shapes that make up their image. 3D tangrams can also be used.
  7. Children develop spatial sense by exploring the physical space around them. Teachers can help students create maps of places that are familiar to them, such as their home, school, or city in which they live. Teachers can also create scavenger hunts that encourage children to become more aware of their environment.
  8. Another important aspect of geometry is perspective taking. Provide children with images that are seen from various perspectives and have discussions on what can be seen from each perspective.
  9. Various types of blocks are good resources for classrooms to have as children can build various structures such as homes and cities. Through block play children can develop spatial awareness and learn about the various attributes of shapes such as sides, corners, and edges.
  10. Have children bring objects from home and discuss which shape(s) the object looks like. This builds upon the home-school connection and allows children to think about everyday objects through the lens of geometry.

 

References

Clements, D. & Sarama, J. (2011). Early childhood teacher education: The case of geometry. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 14(2), 133-148. doi:10.1007/s10857-011-9173-0

Learning Through Books

shapes shapes shapes

Books are an excellent way to encourage mathematical thinking when presented in an age-appropriate and engaging manner. Children retain information from stories that include images and thought-provoking content. Shapes, Shapes, Shapes by Tana Hoban is a great book for encouraging children’s thinking about geometry and, more specifically, shapes. The book includes images of various shapes, some of which are easy to label and others which are more abstract. This is important as it provides children with various examples of what shapes can look like and broadens their thinking about shapes beyond the prototypes that they have formed. Shapes, Shapes, Shapes also has an engaging text that asks children to look for various shapes in the images presented. The shapes cannot always be found immediately, but rather are often hidden within larger structures. Tana Hoban creates an excellent context in which children can explore shapes and see the different ways that shapes are used.

Hands-On Learning: A Contructivist Approach

Building with nature and shapes:

shapes.jpg

While working at a summer camp as a counselor for three and four year olds I discovered that my campers liked to explore nature. After viewing the children’s fascination with collecting nature and using it to build homes for insects, I decided to implement an activity that allowed the children to build structures using nature as well as shapes. I provided my campers with 3D shapes and told them they could collect nature as well. The children initially began by building their own structures using just the 3D shapes, but gradually began to incorporate rocks, leaves, and sticks, and eventually they worked collectively to make one large structure. This activity allowed the children to develop their spatial skills as they mapped out this 3D structure, ensuring proper spacing between objects and using a stick as a bridge in order to connect objects. The activity also provided children with the opportunity to create larger structures out of individual shapes, similar to the way in which tangrams are used. This activity reflects learning expectation G3.4 in the FDK, which states that children are expected to “build three-dimensional structures using a variety of materials and begin to recognize the three-dimensional figures their structure contains” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2011, p. 107).

Creating shapes with straws:

blog 1

During my second year placement at the Gerrard Resource Centre I implemented an activity in which children explored 2D shapes by gluing straws onto pieces of paper. At the time, the activity was create in a way that perhaps limited the children’s thinking, as they were told to create specific shapes. This activity could be extended, however, by allowing children to make their own 2D shapes, or even explore 1D shapes by creating lines with the straw. The children also had the opportunity to use crayons to explore the shapes they created. This activity reflects FDK  learning outcome G3.2, which says children are expected to “identify and describe, using common geometric terms, two-dimensional shapes (e.g., triangle) and three-dimensional figures (e.g., cone) through investigation with concrete materials” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2011, p. 106).

References

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2011). The full-day early learning-kindergarten program. Toronto: Queen’s Printer. Retrieved from https://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/kindergarten_english_june3.pdf