Flower petals, leaves, rock and corn

Flower petals, leaves, rock and corn

 

 

It’s summer. We’re surrounded by nature here in rural upstate New York.

There’s no question that I want the kids that I am working with to play with plants.. I haven’t had much practice with using summer-time foliage in my workshops. Well, I have more practice now.

holding yellow flower

I tried out a couple of ideas with my groups of soon-to-be-kindergartners. The little figures pictured here are the second project we did with things gathered from my backyard. I can’t stop looking at them, I like them so much.

Stick and petal figure

Stick and petal figure

I have goals that this project fulfills. I want the children to use their fingers mindfully, which is necessary to place the materials just so. I want to notice the shape of plants, including learning that most plants have round stems but mint plants have square stems, which they can feel when rolling the stems between their fingers. I want to talk to them about the names of plants. One of children surprised me by knowing the names of many of the plants: his “Nona” taught him.

The first plant related project I did with these kids had to do with geometric shapes. I found out that straight lines and plants don’t go together well.

Foliage, squared

Foliage, squared

Because I’ve done projects like this with numbers and letters, it seemed just fine to me to expand into doing shapes. Wrong.

Making Shapes

Making Shapes

I realized too late that doing geometry with plants is different than using plants so make numbers. The defining difference for these projects is that a wonky number 5 is still a five, but a wonky square is something entirely different from a square.

Rectangles

Rectangles

I compensated for the geometric imprecision by photoshopping in the requisite shapes.

I brought these photo reproductions of the childrens’ work in the week after we made them. I loved how the kids were up for me challenging their logic: What are these shapes? Triangles! Are they the same shape? NO!!! Huh? But you just told me they are both triangles, so they must be the same shape?!?! NO!!?! They’re different shaped triangles!

Tomorrow is the last day I see these kids. I will be bringing in cards with the flower people on them, and we’ll play a game with them that works on using words that describe relationship and position. I’ll be taking notes and writing about how that goes.

Sorting

Sorting

In the meantime, I’m just loving looking at these pictures.

Counting to Ten

March 16, 2015

Table of Papers

Setting the Tables

Today I did a numbers project with students who haven’t quite reached the number 10 yet in their studies. They have gotten as far as number 8. These are Pre-k students, all around the age of four years old.

Two hands on a page

Perfect Fit

My thinking here is that I want these students to create a visual that connects the numbers that they are learning to the fingers that they count on.

Five Fingers

Five Fingers

This is standard size copy paper, folded in half, so that students might be nudged into tracing each hand  in each half of the page.

Boy's Hand

Hand

Here’s something I found interesting: I’ve worked on this project with three pre-school teachers so far, and each of them were surprised that the students did so well with the tracing.

Girls Hand

 

These children sometimes mentioned that they might need help tracing their other hand, but no one actually received or needed help.

IMG_0338After tracing, students labeled their finger tracing with numbers, then crayons were distributed.

tracing

I asked students to trace over their pencil lines.

Numbered Fingers

It was quite wonderful to see how carefully they considered their color choices for their numbers and hands.

More colors on traced hands

What started happening next in this class was a complete surprise to me.

IMG_0341Some students started to embellish their handiwork with ornament and drawings.

Happy Hands

Happy Hands

When these happy faces started showing up on the hands, I was delighted. What a great image for this student to carry around in her head, happy hands counting her numbers.

These four year-old students were completely engaged in this project, and I was enamored by their work. If you are interested in knowing more about why I would do this project, look at an article I’ve written, called Starting at the Beginning which was published in an on-line teaching artists journal ALT/Space.  This journal is full of a diverse cross-section of artists who are doing all sorts of dynamic, educational work. I highly recommend that you take a look.

More Happy Hands

More Happy Hands

In the meantime, smile when you count.

Addendum: April 12, 2015   Just came across this article that discusses why students should use their fingers for counting. http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/04/why-kids-should-use-their-fingers-in-math-class/478053/

 

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