summer art/math

Little hands, Little Books, Folds & Math

Week one, making paper bags, writing names, counting and threading beads
Week one, making paper bags, writing names, counting and threading beads

I’ve been on a quest to explicitly tease out the connections between bookarts and math, This is the third summer I’m with groups of children who will be entering kindergarten in the fall so it was fortuitous that I saw this article about things to think about when doing projects with the very young. The fact that Graham Fletcher gave it a thumbs up encouraged me to read this article carefully.

The first thing about the article that caught my attention was that “math gets an average of only 58 seconds per day.” in the average pre-school and kindergarten classes. So, even though I get only an hour a week with each of the groups, this time may actually be meaningful to these kids.

Here are a few ideas from the article that I am working on addressing:

“,,,kids who learned shapes and spatial skills also showed pronounced benefits in math and writing readiness.”

Shapes and spatial skills: this makes me think of paper-folding and books. (Yes, everything makes me think of paper-folding and books. So be it)

No glue paper bag
No glue paper bag Here’s the video that I learned it from

I had just come across a great way to make a paper bag, a way that seemed just right for the very young. During my first session with the kids we made these bags out of newspaper. You can see them in the first photo of this post. We’ll  makes more of these bags the next time I see these kids, but next time I will use prettier papers.

Paper Bag from a rectangle

The key things I want kids to actually SEE is:

  • the alignment of the middle fold lines when folding up the flap (fourth drawing above), so that the flap folds up evenly all the way across, and
  • how to judge folding an edge the paper so that the doubled over side is about the same size as the not-doubled over sides (as in the sixth drawing above). This folds the paper in thirds, but of course I didn’t attempt to talk about thirds to four- and five-year olds. They don’t grasp the IDEA of thirds, but they have no trouble seeing it.
  • I also want them to experience how they can, by themselves, transform a piece of paper into a bag. Making these bags was a delight for these kids.
The numbers of them
The numbers of them

We did talk about numbers, and did some counting, but we didn’t do rote counting. Instead, all the counting we did was related to counting ourselves. There were 10 children and three more. First we counted the children, then I asked them to guess what number we’d get if we included everyone in the room. It was fun to hear all their answers. Some children were “right” but I made sure to tell all the kids who weren’t “right” that all answers with are important because they are all on the path to the truth.

Rearranging ourselves into a number line
Rearranging ourselves into a number line

I have a thing about number lines. When I can figure out a way for the kids themselves to arrange themselves into a number line, well that’s the best. For this first time I let them arrange themselves by whatever means worked for them. They don’t all know the numbers, or understand this arrangement but, I found out that most of these kids know their numbers. The next time we do this I will intervene by asking them to use words only, rather than words that rely on gestures, to arrange themselves. Doing this aligns with the article I mentioned above: “ Clements urges parents and teachers to teach kids what he calls the “Language of space” – words like front, back, behind, top, bottom, over, under, last, first, next, backward, in, on, deep, shallow, triangle, square, corner, edge, etc.”

Four page book
Four page book

I never know how much we can do in a session, but I’m hoping to make this little four-page counting book with the kids: more spatial practice, more practice with the ability to “… identify the number of items in a small group”, a way to have a conversation about shapes, and, yeah, I just like making books with kids.

There are more things I am thinking about, will be thinking about with these summer projects, but now I have to get back to work prepping for tomorrow’s class.








4 thoughts on “Little hands, Little Books, Folds & Math

  1. Hello Paula, again an excellent post! Thank you for sharing. I wish being a kid in your class. What an advantage when we can start like that and not being excluded because of gender. Now I am 74 and experience your posts as candy on a birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved this as so much I had to make my own paper bag. The diagram made it so easy. Your students are so lucky. Art class is the best part of the day!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s