# Two Beautiful

The four-year-old children in my summer workshops made numbers so lovely that I had to make an accordion book out of photographs of the numbers.  These images are so exquisite that I don’t expect anyone to believe that they were assembled by such young children, so at the end of this post I’ve embedded video links that show, in fast motion, a couple of the numbers being made. You’ll notice that the children created the assemblages without adult interference.

The materials that students used were mostly from my husband’s garden. One particular harvest of beans had been buried in the back of our pantry for too long and dearest was going to throw it into the compost. These, therefore, are rescued beans. I also picked a selection of flowers (marigolds are the  best) Some of the students went outside and brought in leaves from the community garden. There was also pasta in the activity boxes in the room, so we used pasta too.

We worked as a group to make the first number. I pondered over whether to start with zero or one, and took to twitter, asking the math community that shows up there what they thought. There was no definitive consensus but seemed to me that there was more said in favor of starting with zero.

I’ve come to a way of thinking about what number to start with. In the course of my five sessions with these students we made or used three different number lines. Each one was different. Our Great Big Number Line  went from one to ten. The meandering number line went from zero to 42. This sequence went from zero to 10. Did the children notice the differences? Turns out, yes, they did!… which gave them the opportunity to see that the number line is not a fixed item.

Students worked mostly in pairs of two. It took about 8 to 10 minutes for each number to be made. We did not glue anything down. These assemblages were created to be photographed.

I was a bit worried that these kids would be unhappy about the fact that, as soon as a the picture was taken, the number was undone.

As usual, these kiddos totally surprised me. Dumping the contents of the numbers back into the big bowl was one of their favorite moments!

.My daughter Angela did a great job of photographing this process.

The first thing I did with the photos was, with Photoshop, isolate the numbers from the background, vectorize, then print them up. The next day that I saw these children I showed them the prints and we did a number line clothes line.

I’ve been inspired by Joe Schwartz and Tracy Zager, who have written about facilitating the building of number lines with clothes lines and Post-its, So the first thing we did with our numbers was to hand them out in random order, and have the student estimate where the numbers should be located….

Next stop was Kinko’s to make copies of the numbers on standard sized copy paper, that could be folded into accordion books. I had one problem. I didn’t want to just have a line of numbers. I wanted there to be some corresponding items that could be counted, you know, like five things associated with the number five. After agonizing over what these things should be I realized that we had already created designs on the backs of the Great Big Number Line, so I recreated, with acceptable accuracy, the students’ designs and made them part of the book.

Now, here’s the little accordion number line book:

What’s great about accordion books is that they have fronts and backs. Flipping the book upside down reveals the designs that correspond to the numbers.

Completely opening up the book reveals numbers and images!

I’ll be making a few copies of this book to give to the kindergarten teachers who will have these students in their classes.

Now if you haven’t seen enough images on this project, here are two clips of the children working, in fast-action mode.

Yup, love this project.

## 4 thoughts on “Two Beautiful”

1. Cheryl Baldwin says:

Great work by not only you and Angela, Paula, but by each child! I LOVE the accordion book.

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2. What a wonderful and beautiful way to teach, what a fabulous way to learn.

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