Early Math

STEAM December Interactive Bulletin Board

This post is part of a series of posts detailing STEM Interactive Bulletin Boards. If you’d like to read some of the “why” behind these tools, check out the first post in the series HERE.

In addition, here is the link to a video of November’s STEAM interactive bulletin board. Since I have included read alouds into every lesson, I am changing the title to STEAM interactive bulletin boards. STEAM interactive bulletin boards are helpful in implementing and integrating all subjects while supplying a language rich environment for all children. I initially created this December board to give teachers ideas on how to use their whiteboards as interactive bulletin boards. With a little teacher modification, these boards can truly integrate reading, writing, science, technology, engineering and math. If you read my blog or watch my video from last month, these boards are created to maximize teaching time through 10-minute daily mini lessons, all generated by students’ curiosity and teachers’ questioning.

A STEAM board is to be used as a teaching tool. The teacher can use it as a questioning tool to ask their students what they notice, see, or question. For December, I have supplied additional activities that can be linked to the mini lessons while using a classroom whiteboard as the bulletin board to write on and magnets to easily navigate for teacher friendly use. These activities can be done during centers, rotations, small group, independent choice, etc.

Language/Read Aloud

Retelling a Sequence of Events

An important theme of this board is that it does not illustrate typical or traditional science and math topics. The bulletin board was created to highlight language and vocabulary concepts and help foster literacy development while integrating STEM components throughout all lessons. For instance, this zoomed image of the characters from Gingerbread Baby can be taught during a retelling/comprehension lesson. Sequence of events, ordinal numbers, and spatial reasoning are all mathematical elements that can be tied into the lessons by asking specific questions.

  • Who was the first (second, third) character to chase after the Gingerbread baby?
  • Can you put the characters in order of how they chased the Gingerbread baby?
  • What happened after the fox chased after him?
  • Who was the 4th character to chase the Gingerbread baby?
  • What happened to the GIngerbread Baby on the bridge? What would happen if that piece of ice wasn’t there?
  • What was Matti doing the whole time?

All of the characters were printed from Jan Brett’s website which has a ton of free activities! Check it out!!

Gingerbread Read Alouds

Mathematics Through Interactive Gingerbread Cut-Outs

I laminated and added magnetic tape to the gingerbread cutouts. There are numerous activities that can be done with these objects. Here are two options:

  • Have the students sort the gingerbread men by the color of buttons
    • Have the students count aloud and then write the representation on the board
    • It is important to show the multiple ways to represent the “2 buttons” ex: 2 dots, 2 tally marks, a child can hold up 2 fingers, a child can clap 2 times, a child can jump 2 times, etc.
    • Bring out the language: Which buttons have the most/least/less/fewer? Are there any that have the same amount?
Sorting Gingerbread Cookies and Counting
  • Have the students sort the gingerbread men by the number of buttons
    • Have the students count aloud and then have the students write the numeral on the gingerbread man itself (since it’s laminated, it will wipe right off with dry erase marker).
    • Ask questions: Which buttons have more or less and how do you know? A great way to describe “equal” is by asking if each gingerbread man can hold hands and if any are left out? Or, try noticing whether they all have dancing partners. This is a great introduction to odd and even numbers.

    • Another important aspect is to explore the concepts of numerosity and cardinality. I tried to illustrate it with numerals on the picture below. Students can learn that the 12 gingerbread men are 12 no matter where they started to count or where the count ended. Simply put, 12 is 12.
Exploring Numerosity and Cardinality. “12 is always 12”

Engineering/Technology: “Catch me if you can!”

A super fun and engaging engineering lesson is for students to build a structure to catch the gingerbread man. This is great to do in small group because it will maximize collaboration between peers, problem solving, communication and tinkering. The picture below is a sample of objects students can use to create their projects. If a classroom has access to iPads, a great way to incorporate technology is to have 1 student recording students building and have the 1 student interviewing students about their builds, asking them open ended questions. This is a great learning experience for all students.

NGSS: Life science thanks to the SLY FOX from the GIngerbread Man, Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Girl.

NGSS states the first and second graders need to: design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.

Students will learn how animals like foxes learn to survive in the snow. I am attaching a AIMS activity titled, Whos My Mom?

Students will identify and match animal offspring to their parents, recognize characteristics that distinguish one animal from another, create an imaginary animal and its offspring, and sort and graph animals according to their characteristics.

Gingerbread Men, Geometry, Pattern Blocks,  OH MY!

I used magnetic pattern blocks (less than $15.00) on the bulletin board and I created the first designs; after the students can create their own on the whiteboard to share with the class. Have the students share their thinking; how they created their design, what shapes they used, how many they used and what their shape looks like to them; and when it is rotated, does the design/shapes change or stay the same?

This activity that can be done in small groups, free flow or whole group was first introduced from the bulletin board itself. This picture is an example of how a teacher can ask students to build a snowman out a pattern blocks and the multiple ways students might build one. The teacher can then take this opportunity to talk about the different shapes the students used, their attributes, the composition and decomposition of shapes. The teacher can have the students count their shapes or a certain color of shapes and compare how many they had compared to their friends.

After the pattern blocks and counting, the students then do a non-standard measuring activity with the gingerbread man. The gingerbread men were die-cut and it’s a great activity for the students create and add the details to the plain gingerbread man.

Arts and Crafts

I hope you have as much fun with these ideas as I did! Let me know in the comments below how well everything has worked for you!

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