Earlier this month my colleagues and I had the privilege of attending the National Association for the Education of Young Children Conference in Los Angeles. Professional learning is a wonderful opportunity where one can validate ideas, gain new insights, and network with others in the field. This was my first attendance at a preschool level conference and I was especially intrigued by the focus on learning through play. Yes, even mathematics can be learned through play. In other words, “the objects and events are not themselves mathematics, but they afford mathematical thinking” (Ginsburg, 2006). Many sessions at the conference gave participants an opportunity to engage with items in a playful way and reflect on the potential of such experiences for young children.
Shortly after I returned from the conference, a former student of mine asked for some recommendations on learning gifts for her daughter. My thoughts immediately went to the sessions I attended and the both new and well-known devices I encountered at the conference. As the holidays approach, perhaps you too are looking for that perfect gift for a young child. Here are a few options I would like to highlight:
- LEGO Education is one of the branches in the The LEGO Group. This organization designs kits specifically through research for educational purposes. Researchers agree that block play provides children with opportunities for early mathematics (Kamii et al., 2004; Ness and Farenga, 2007). The session I attended focused on the social and emotional aspect, but I would like to highlight a math kit offered by LEGO Education. The Math Train kit provides opportunities of counting, patterns, and simple addition and subtraction. Moments like these are enhanced with mathematical discourse among both peers and teacher/parent.
- Digit Widget is a balance device designed to provide opportunities to understand equality. The wooden blocks are marked with a variety of math representations for the assigned number and are crafted to have a specific weighted value. Through play, children can explore additive situations, mechanical advantage, and even algebra. In the play context children are free to experiment, investigate, and feed their curiosities.
- Pattern Block Puzzles provide opportunities for children to build spatial reasoning. These sets of puzzle frames use the standard pattern blocks familiar to most early educators. Unlike the familiar templates, the designer used these patterns in research to show that they uniquely provide a goal for children and increase engagement.
- Savvy Subitize cards were designed to increase subitizing ability in children. These cards offer several math games for children to play, giving opportunity to become fluent in figurative patterns and multiple math representations. You can also download these for free to make your own cards.
While these may not be on your little one’s wish list, they can provide opportunities in mathematics which we know are precious, especially in the first years of life. Perhaps this season you can give the gift of mathematics – priceless!
There has been renewed interest among science educational researchers over the past decade in the power of “play” in the classroom. One of the researchers that I have been following is Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a psychologist at Temple University. She is one of the founders of the Ultimate Block Party which brings together companies, makers,… Continue Reading
Lesley Gates joins us on the podcast this week. She briefly describes some of the goals, purposes, and benefits of the new science standards that are in the process of being incorporated in public schools across the US. With an emphasis on the “Doing” of science rather than reading about it from books; along with developing and fostering a sense of curiosity and wonder about the natural and human-made worlds, the NGSS hope to bring science back to a more prominent role in schooling than it has been over the last few decades. Lesley describes with great passion some of her hopes for these standards.
I hope that you have had the chance to personally experience an AIMS professional learning opportunity. We AIMS facilitators have multiple goals as we lead workshops. We provide classroom teachers an opportunity to increase and/or strengthen their own content knowledge, explore their teaching practices, and we strive to help teachers find ways to improve their… Continue Reading
This has been a big week of learning; learning to know new people, learning to know more about my work, more about the community of research, and more about myself. I will start with the latter. I tend to believe that I have a steady stream of curiosity. Every kid loves to ask “why?” and,… Continue Reading
When looking at coordinating units, it is important to consider concepts other than just multiplying. One of those is fractions. Fractions would be first among these encountered by a child in school. Mental operations that must develop for a child to understand fractional ideas include partitioning, iterating, and splitting. These developments are not taught, much… Continue Reading
In my last blog I mentioned that there are two distinct types of subitizing – perceptual and conceptual. I am fascinated by the subtle differences that students show and what that means about their thinking. Perceptual subitizing is the ability to recognize a number without using other mathematical processes (Clements 1999) and there are four… Continue Reading
Earlier this fall I was in a classroom where students were using whiteboards to record their answers and then they would hold them up for the teacher to examine. The teacher asked the students to answer several questions in this manner and then the students were dismissed to do an assignment. After the class, as… Continue Reading
The AIMS Center for Math and Science Education is happy to be in a cooperating partnership with H.O.P.E. for K-8 Education (Hosting Ongoing Professional Experiences), an educational non-profit organization in Garden City, Michigan. H.O.P.E. for K-8 Education is also in collaboration with Schoolcraft College, a comprehensive community-based college located in Livonia, Michigan, with a satellite… Continue Reading
I had the opportunity to attend my first California Mathematics Council, Southern conference, in Palm Springs. The title of this year’s conference was “Sparking Deeper Understanding.” I headed out early the first morning of the conference with my notebook in hand, not really knowing what to expect. I have attended other conferences for different content… Continue Reading