Number Word Sequence & Counting

Meet the Children Where They Are: Episode 4

Narrator:  “Although this series makes this interaction seem like a long period of time, it was actually only about 3 minutes…well, maybe 5!  Time flies when you’re having fun, okay?  Anyway, can Bob count two hidden piles of rocks?  Let’s get back to the action.”

(Math research associate narrates…)

RA:  So it was the bottom of the 9th in the World Series…or…overtime in the Super Bowl.  I was under pressure knowing that 5-year-olds have shorter attention spans than goldfish.

(Video: goldfish in a goldfish bowl — alive, preferably)

RA:  And I… now, what was I saying?  Oh, yes.  I was running out of time and still hadn’t found the extent of Bob’s counting abilities.  So, I had him count 9 rocks and I covered them.

(Video: counting 9 rocks, heartbeat for each count; scary music)

RA:  I then had him count 6 rocks into another pile.  As he did, instead of starting with 1, he said, “10, 11, 12, …”  I said, “Whoa, horsey!”

(Video of the Lone Ranger bringing Silver to a stop… horse whinnies, record screeches to a stop.)

(Video: math research associate kneeling in mud with child — slowly zoom in.)

RA:  Suddenly, I’m perplexed.  Is this kid cheating?  He’s supposed to find out how many rocks with BOTH piles being hidden, not just count more.  So what to do?  I grabbed 4 rocks without him seeing.  I told him there were now 11 under my first hand and 4 under my other hand. I asked him, “How many all together?”

(Dramatic music and still frame of Bob and RA…)

RA:  After 7-10 seconds, Bob said, “12, 13, 14, 15,” with an emphasis on the 15.

I said, “I heard you count 12, 13, 14, 15.  How did you know to stop at 15?”

Bob replied, “Because 12 is 1, 13 is 2, 14 is 3, and 15 is 4.”

(Slow-motion video of RA jumping up and down with arms raised…)

(Zoom out as RA walks toward camera — reminiscent of a political spot.)

RA:  At this point, there was smoke coming out of Bob’s ears.  His difficulty solving the double-hidden problem and his body language screamed, “I’m done!!!”  I told him, “Thanks, Bob, for doing math with me.”  And just like that, he was off like a shot, climbing on splintery boards and stepping on rusty nails again.

(Still shot of RA… anti-climactic music.)

RA:  There I was, a weary, muddy, yet elated man.  A kindergartner that can “count his counts”?  Wow!  What an exciting world it is when young children have such mathematical potential (given the right opportunities).  I was mentally exhausted, but I had a better idea of “where he was”.  

RA:  What we do is not for the faint of heart.  Neither is it for those afraid of dirty hands.  Educators, meet the children where they are.  It’s not a job, it’s a way of life.  Out.

(Dramatic orchestra music… fade to credit roll and outtakes.)

“Play is the Answer to how Anything New Comes About” – Piaget

As the early math team moves forward on the work we are doing, the concept of practicality is an issue we are addressing. One-on-one interviews with the children have taught us a wealth of information about young children’s mathematics, but it is not a realistic structure that early childhood teachers have time to do in… Continue Reading

Spring is in the Air – Bloom with Early Mathematics

Spring is just around the corner and families will soon begin enjoying more outside activities such as walks, picnics, and working on the yard. Our world is a giant playground but statistically, children are spending less time outside than when their parents were children. What can parents, grandparents, caretakers, and early learning staff do to… Continue Reading

Play Can Be Hard Fun

In a previous blog post, I asked several questions related to the work of our early childhood mathematics team: What teacher knowledge is needed in order to enhance adult-child interactions and help children learn the most in play contexts? What experiences can support preschool teachers in deepening their knowledge of children’s mathematical thinking and the… Continue Reading

Meet the Children Where They Are: Episode 3

Narrator: “Last time on Meet the Children Where They Are: Has Mr. Unnamed nerdy-looking stereotypical math Research Associate (RA) found 5-year-old Bob’s zone of potential construction (ZPC)? Bob has counted 12 rocks and he came up with three different solutions.” (from title screen — video of construction site with concrete truck backing up) (fade to… Continue Reading

The Forgotten Thirteen

Did you know that the number thirteen is a frequently skipped number in a young child’s early number sequence? According to Karen Fuson’s research in “Children’s Counting and Concepts of Number,” the numbers 13, 14 and 15 are the most consistently omitted numbers. As we work with children at our partner school sites, we are… Continue Reading

Mathematizing: Highlighting the Mathematics in the Young Child’s World

“From the ages of 3 through 6, children need many experiences that call on them to relate their knowledge to the vocabulary and conceptual frameworks of mathematics – in other words, to ‘mathematize’ what they intuitively grasp.” (NCTM/NAEYC 2002, p.16)  So what does it mean to “mathematize”? Mathematize is defined as: To regard or treat… Continue Reading

Shapes Here, Shapes There, Shapes EVERYWHERE!!!

In January, I had the wonderful opportunity to present to a group of 50 dedicated TK/K teachers in Clovis Unified School District. My colleague, Jason Chamberlain, and I provided the research on the importance of children having early math opportunities prior to kindergarten and weaving math opportunities throughout the day. We provided a variety of… Continue Reading

Making the Most of Mathematical Play

If you have been following our early math team’s work with three- and four-year-olds, you’ll know that we’re exploring the ways children develop knowledge and understanding in the context of mathematical play. We’re not interested in “social knowledge”, or the kind of knowledge that requires transmission from one person to another. Rather, we’re engaged in… Continue Reading