In order to create a classroom environment that truly represents the children who are present each day in our room and made up my Grade Two class, we decided to create our learning materials using the loose parts gathered from their beautiful things. (Check out my post and how you can start gathering “beautiful things” for loose part play and other classroom activities.) Having the students create learning resources not only gives them a sense of pride in their classroom, but also enables them to have a greater knowledge of the resources present.
The children began this journey of creating our number chart by taking part in a read aloud of the book 10 For Dinner. After discussing the numbers used by the author Jo Ellen Bogart, the children and I decided upon what materials could be used to represent numbers. In the math curriculum, children should develop and be able to apply mathematical skills, strategies, and processes to new situations through modelling and representing. The pictorial representation, aids in the student’s ability to develop logical thinking.
The student’s began by initially being assigned a number for our chart. They practiced their printing and writing skills by printing not only the number but the number word as well. This allows the students’ to recognize the association between the word and the number it represents. (As a side note…I always let the children use permanent markers on classroom resources and in some project work. There is something about permanent markers that kids really love. However, they must use pencil before tracing over with the marker. I find this helps them write carefully and pay more attention to their printing.)
Students should develop an understanding of the symbolic representation of numbers and have ongoing experiences with decomposing and composing numbers. This was achieved through inquiry and allowing the students to build the numbers how they saw fit. Some students represented numbers through the use of beans, others through foam shapes or macaroni noodles.
The children took much care in printing and forming rows with their objects in order for the number to be seen clearly from the distance of our classroom. There was a strong understanding of number sense that was developed through the day’s activity. The children were able to transfer their prior knowledge of number representation to a more abstract context.
As another side note, I have had some readers asking how to incorporate curriculum objectives into documentation or how to merge the Reggio Emilia approach within the curriculum. This post is a good example to answer those questions. When writing documentation (this post is documentation from this math project), I have the curriculum beside me and as I am writing, I am looking at objectives that were met during this learning process, and using the objectives to share with parents and the school community, what took place in our classroom. It maybe sounds a little more labour intensive, but it really helps me recognize the number of objectives that students are able to meet in each project and allows me to have written and photo assessment based on the curriculum that can be used in portfolios, parent/teacher interviews, or reporting.
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