We spend time each day in a whole group math lesson. The lessons are quick and fast paced and often involve movement of some kind. We also use the overhead projector and overhead manipulatives to involve the whole class in the activity. Each of the major math topics that will be introduced in small group lessons and math tubs are first introduced to the entire class in this format. So, in other words as we are freely exploring in math tubs, we are beginning patterning activities in the whole group. Some examples of activities are making "people patterns" where the students might line up boy-girl, boy-girl, or blonde-brown, blonde-brown, etc or "reading" the pattern from the calendar and using snaps, claps, or rhythm instruments to represent the pattern. After several weeks of whole class lessons on this activity and ample free exploration time, then the small groups begin working on patterning activities and these activities are added to the math tubs. When patterning has moved to the small group and tubbing parts of the math program, the large group lessons move on to the next topic and the children are introduced to the new topic.
Sometimes I use our whole group lessons to teach the kids to use recording sheets that go with activities that they have been practicing in the math tubs. I want the children to have lots of practice and interaction with the materials, before we use recording sheets, so they are not introduced in small group when the activity is taught. I find that after ample work with the manipulatives, the children catch on easily to the recording sheets. I make a transparency of the sheet and use overhead manipulatives to demonstrate the activity. The students have paper copies of the recording sheets at their desk and we complete these together. Then the recording sheets are added to the existing activity in the math tub and the children are encouraged (but not forced) to use them. I find that most children like the recording sheets, so that they can take home a picture of what they are working on.
We follow the sequence of math activities recommended in Math Their Way by Mary Barratta Lorton. The sequence is as follows:
patterning and numeral writing
sorting and classifying
comparison (more, less, equal and measurement)
number concepts (pre-addition and subtraction)
Visit the Math Their Way Website.
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