Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fall Math Ideas

Here are some pictures of ways you can use the fall resources (such as pumpkin seeds, Indian Corn, leaves and seeds) to make learning foundation math skills fun and meaningful for your child.  Not only will you be teaching your child important math concepts such as sorting, counting, graphing and categorizing, you will also be making lasting fall memories.  Enjoy this post and enjoy your child and the beauty of the fall season.

These students have taken fall leaves they collected and are working on sorting them into categories.  The first time they sorted by color.  Then they counted how many items were in each set.
These are close up shots of how they sorted the leaves into categories.
Next they worked together to graph each group in order to determine which leaf category had the most, least, and if any groups had equal amounts.  They determined that the green leaf category had the most leaves.

You can find fall cut outs, foam pieces and other small items cheaply at local craft stores, dollar stores and at the dollar spots in department stores.  The students worked in small groups of four or less with the items to sort, categorize, and eventually graph their items.  The children had to work together to decide how to sort the items.  Some groups sorted by color while others sorted by shape.  They had to work together to decide how the items should be categorized.  They worked hard to problem solve and work together to make decisions while participating in this activity.  Some groups then counted how many items where in each group strengthening their number sense.

In this activity the students used items collected in nature (Indian Corn, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds) to sort, count and categorize.  Each Kindergarten class has been working on these skills over the past two weeks.  Using items found in nature during the fall months also gives the students a chance to explore the natural world and obtain a better understanding of the life cycle of plants.  These concepts were introduced during our Pumpkin Unit of Study and will be reinforced during the school year.  The students were also encouraged to use descriptive words while working with these items so they can become better at using descriptive words (adjectives) in their writing.  The more experiences they have with real items at this age the stronger their writing skills will become as they become writers.  Go on Nature Walks, to the zoo, museums, library programs or other activities that will expose your child to new experiences and vocabulary.  Encourage them to describe what they experience and to keep a journal they can write and draw in during these (or right after) trips.
Students sorted the seeds and kernels before starting to create graphs.  The purpose of graphing is to help the students visualize the mathematical concepts of greater than (more), less than (less) and equal to (same).  Graphing allows the student to visually record these concepts.  This helps when they start learning about place value (10's, 100's, 1000's), fractions and decimals.  This also helps the students start to learn groups of 10, counting to 100, addition/subtraction and multiplication.
Students graphing their items that were sorted into categories.

 These students are working independently with a handful of items.  Students mentored each other during their independent work.  Mathematical vocabulary was used during their discussions.  Many were asked to explain or justify why they classified the items the way they did.  Most students classified by type (pumpkin seed, corn kernel, sunflower seed).  Others divided the corn kernels into multiple categories by color (dark, light, mixed) and counted them as separate categories.  When doing these activities at home always ask your child to explain or justify their reasoning for sorting or classifying items into categories.  This helps them use logic and rich vocabulary to explain their thinking which is a critical skills needed in all academic areas.  Their explanations are often fascinating and we learn so much about each child from those conversations!


This child found a different way to graph his information.  He then taped one of each item at the bottom of his graph so others could understand his data.  He also wrote the numeral next to each item before he removed the items from his paper.  He wanted to "see" his graph after he had to put the items away so he created his graph in a way that he could take the activity home with him.  As teachers we like to leave many of our activities "open-ended" so children can express their learning in different ways.  We encourage you to do the same at home. 

This child created her graph on a write-on/wipe-off board.  We encourage you to have one of these at home along with some dry erase markers.  It will save you a ton on paper, it is easy to clean and can be used almost anywhere!

The last fall math activity we would like to share with you is this easy to make pumpkin math game.  One of the teachers found this idea on Pinterest (we don't know how we taught before Pinterest came into our lives, lol) and it only took five minutes to make.  Take orange paper and a black permanent marker and cut out random oval/circle shapes.  Draw on faces using basic shapes.  Make sure the mouth is extra big to accommodate many candy corn (at least up to 12 if you are using two die or larger if you want to use 3 die).  Have your child roll the first die and place that many candy corn on where the top row of teeth would go.  Next you, or your child can roll the second die and then place the number of candy corn that correlates with the number on the die.  Now ask your child to add together the top row and bottom row of teeth (candy corn) and give you the sum (the total).  Try to use the correct vocabulary (using words like sum for total).  You can also use the following language.  "The total number of candy corn teeth in our pumpkins mouth is 11.  11 is the whole.  11 is made up of two parts.  The first part is 6, the second part is 5.  The whole is 11.  6+5=11."  We are teaching the children math vocabulary such as adding, sum, total, part, all together, more than, greater than, less than and equal too.  You can expand this activity by asking your child which number is greater, 6 or 5?  What comes after six?  What comes before five?  What would the total be if we add on more tooth to the mouth?  What would the total be is we had one less tooth in the mouth?  There are lots of ways you can expand your child's math knowledge by just asking a few more questions during any math game you play.

The students had a ball playing this game.  We did have to talk about germs, not eating the candy and taking turns when we play a math game before we started this activity.
These two students thought it was too funny when they each rolled a one on their die.  They also thought the pumpkin face was funny with just two teeth!

We encourage you to play math games with your child.  Have them identify numbers at the grocery store or gas station.  Have them count how many red lights you go through on a drive to run errands.  Play high/low with playing cards.  You both flip a card at the same time and the person with the high card (or low card if you want to play that way) gets both cards.  Play until one person is out of cards. The person with all the cards wins.  You can have them count how many coins are in your pocket, count how many letters are on the cereal box or have them count how many letters are in their name.  All of these math games will make them stronger mathematicians and will help them love learning math!

We hope that sharing some of these ideas will encourage you to "play" math at home.  Please share with us any great math games you play at home!  Enjoy playing with your child.  Thank you for all you do to help support your child mastering the skills we are working on in class.