The Number Five in Beans
April 26, 2016
I still have some in-school arts-in-ed projects to show up for before my season ends, but it’s not too early to think about the summer. I’ll be working with pre-K children this summer, in the local Lunch, Learn & Play camp. I’ll be there three hours once a week for five weeks. It’s just the sort of situation that I’m best at: completely unpredictable. This is a free, show up when you want program so I won’t ever know the number of children who will be in attendance and I won’t be able to predict continuity of the participants.
The goal of the program is to support preparing children for kindergarten. Two teachers from the local school will be on premises. Mostly the mandate for these kids is to work on literacy, and that’s what most of the involved adults will be doing. I will be the only one of the group that will be focusing on numbers and relationship thinking. The teachers have said the goal for these 4- and 5-year olds is simply number recognition: assigning value or even writing the numbers is not part of what I will be doing. Given all these conditions, I’ve worked out a curriculum that I’m very excited about.
I’ll likely start out with some form of this finger counting drawing activity that I’ve previously done with kindergartens. I like planting this happy connection between fingers and counting into the minds of these young children. I am happy to see current research supporting this kind of thinking. Addendum: There’s a wondeful 12-minute talk by Jo Boaler, in which she speaks about finger counting between 7:22 and 8:57.
I won’t be asking children to draw numbers but I will be asking them to interact with them. The number 5 at the top of the page is the filled in outline of the number five.. Here’s a video, in 8x, showing how I built up the form:
There’s no gluing done here. I will be taking photos and hopefully even videos of the children making these numbers to help instill lasting impressions.
We’ll also be working cooperatively to fill in big numbers. I will have these number drawn on heavy weight paper…
— and ask children to paint, draw and collage items on the number. Staying in the lines won’t be an issue because…
…the numbers will be cut out and mounted on these accordion supported structures. This number two is 25 inches tall.
I’m considering adding in some sort of door so that children can actually get into the space behind the numbers. My thought is to scatter these numbers around the hallway outside our meeting room each week, and asking children to gather them into our room and line them up in order.
In addition to the numbers I will be packing other kinds of activities that will, hopefully, support relationship thinking. Included in these other activities, I will be bringing along a variation of a project that Christopher Danielson has developed around the concept of “which one doesn’t belong?” What I will be creating are cards to accompany the questions: How are these the same? How are they different?
My thought is that I will be trying to coax out or introduce words that have to do with scale, position, shape and color and whatever else those active minds come up with.
We’ll so come coloring, too.
Likely I will make coloring pages like this one but I will wait until after I start to create these as I want to get a feel for the things first.
Also, I will bring books to read.
In the Night Kitchen Farm donated this gem One Was Johnny by Maurice Sendak to LL&P, so this is the beginning of my travelling library. I would be thrilled to hear recommendations for other books, so please help me out here!
For the grand finale, I want the kids to make really humongous numbers, which, hopefully, will be filmed and/or photographed as the numbers are made. I was flailing about, trying to figure out what to use to make the numbers….
… and finally it seemed to me that having the children become the number, in other words, choreographing them into the shape of the numbers, like the number four in the drawing above, might be a fun thing to try out. Hmm. Wish me luck and look for updates on how this goes during July and August!
Addendum: When Malke Rosenfeld saw this post, she tweeted me a link to this post of hers, which referenced her math work as a five-year old. It knocked my socks off, so I’m sharing it here 1970’s Kindergarten Worksheets