Saturday, February 6, 2016

All about MATH!

Hi! I'm Carolyn from Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together.  Today I'm here to share lots of math ideas with you.

Math is so much fun to teach to young children, because it's such a huge part of their lives. They don't even realize they are "learning math" because it is a part of everything they do. Counting, sorting, patterning, word problems, estimating, ordering, geometry, measuring  are all part of everyday life.  So, for me, the best way to teach math to my students is to immerse them in math and let them see its importance all around them.

Unlike Algebra or Trigonometry, where older students never see the importance of that math in every day life...

                    math smart the hangover rain man

Primary math is everywhere!  I like to set up my classroom so my children live the math they learn every day.

I wrote a new book with Dr. Jean called Dr. Jean's Math Recipes, with LOTS of games and activities that we love to use to teach and reinforce math concepts.

I had so much fun working with Dr. Jean- what an honor it was.  We wrote Dr. Jean's Reading Recipes last year, and decided to keep going with math!  In this book, we share our favorite math activities for  the five domains outlined in the Common Core math standards:  Counting and Cardinality, Operations and Algebraic Thinking, Number Operations and Base Ten, Measurement and Data, and Geometry.  We shared activities for large groups, small groups, partner work, and independent learning.  These activities can be used as primary lessons, brain breaks, transition times, RTI, or whole class review.  The best thing about these activities is that they make learning math fun and memorable.

Here are just a few of the ideas I like to use to create a math rich environment for my students.

Make a life size number line in the classroom so you can quickly do word problems if you have a few extra minutes.  It's also great for children to just walk and count forward and backward- or skip count as they jump over a number.  You can have students line up on a certain number.  You can have girls line up on even numbers, and boys line up on odd numbers.

Pass out number cards  randomly, and have kids line up in number order to leave for specials.  Or hand out random number cards, and have kids line up greatest to least numbers.

Create life size ten frames on the floor for lots of fun counting activities.  When the ten frames are on the floor, the children will create their own word problems and counting activities during free play time- just because the ten frames are there! You will be amazed the math conversations and problem solving that will be taking place- all on their own.  It's handy to have the ten frames set up so you can quickly do an activity with them if you have a few minutes.

Make tape numbers on the floor for the children to walk, drive cars on, line counters up on...

Make a 12 and 20 poster for the wall if those numbers are tricky for your students, so they see it everyday.  My kids had a hard time remembering the name for rectangle and hexagon, so I used those shapes as the counters.

Have the children make lots of wall charts and posters using math!

Have your students help build a Shape Town for your class.  Talk about the shapes and attributes of the shapes as the students bring in different shaped items to add to Shape Town.  Talking about and handling the shapes make them real to the children, and help the students remember the names of the shapes.

If you would like a copy of my Shape Town picture and the parent note that I sent home, just click the picture below.  I printed my Shape Town picture on cardstock.

Provide lots of opportunities for children to play with and use math in their free time.  Set up a grocery store with real money, paper for writing lists, and items with price tags on them for students to see and read.

Before you know it, they are counting money because it's important to them as they play. Or play restaurant!

Leave building ideas by a block center for children to try to copy or to give the children ideas for their own creations.

Kindergarten Lifestyle shared these wonderful I Can Cards for your block center. I can't wait to use these with my class.  The kids will love them, and they provide such a wonderful academic play center where the children can work together to discuss, plan, and build these buildings. 
Blocks Center : I Can List

Blocks Center : I Can ListBlocks Center : I Can ListBlocks Center : I Can List

You can do as much with this as you want.  You could take a picture of the building and have the children write about what they built or use the building as a setting for a story.  You could have the children describe how they built their building and tell what they used to build it and why.  You could make a classroom book of the buildings, even putting the picture card on one side of the book and the photograph of the children's finished product on the other side.  My classes always love looking at our classroom books.  

Play games.  Card games and dice games are great for making math important to children.  They want to read the numbers on the cards.  They want to be able to quickly add the numbers on the dice. We have lots of game ideas in our book that the kids love.

These are great for math conversations:  "I have more eight. It is greater than five."  "I have five. It is less than eight."  Also great for how many more, matching one to one, counting...

Make a math post office.  The children deliver "letters" to the correct number mailbox.

Measure everything- with lots of different non-standard measurement items- blocks, paperclips, unsharpened pencils...

(Notice we are measuring my FAVORITE all time book, Joone.  If you don't know Joone, I wrote  a post HERE about all the different ways I love to use the book.  I just love it.)

My kids love to sort any and everything.  It's really fun.

When our crayon boxes get all mixed up, I dump all the crayons from all the boxes.  The kids sort them into color piles, then each grab a color to put one of each crayon in each box to sort them.  They love it.  (And it's a great help.)  

I made a few boxes of random items for the children to sort from biggest to smallest.  They worked with a partner and had a ball!

The magnifying glass distracted them for a while because they had to study everything they found with it, but they managed to finish their task eventually, and find every tiny mark on each item using the magnifying glass in the meantime.  First, we talked about (and I modeled) how to line up the objects by having them all rest on the same bottom line to get an accurate measurement.

We made a class math book.  My kids always love making classroom books, and then looking at them any chance they get.  So I figured, why not get some math concepts in there for them to see each time they look at the book.

(for some reason that picture reminded me of The Breakfast Club group!  Anybody remember that movie?  :)

 These guys CRACKED me up! :)

I had to take advantage of my twins for "same."  :)

Snack time is another great chance to work on math facts. We have been working on reviewing our facts of five, so I gave everyone 5 animal cookies out of the bag.  Then, one at a time, they each came to the board to write their five fact, by writing how many white cookies and how many pink cookies they had.  This was great for fluency practice, because we kept reading the math sentences and noticing how many were the same. 

The funny thing we noticed was that nobody had 5 pinks or 5 whites- everyone had a combination of the two.  

Here are some wonderful math videos for teachers to share with parents.  Each video is only about 45 seconds to 2 minutes, just the perfect amount of time for families to watch, understand the vocabulary or concept, and feel better prepared to help their children.

Below is a handout  to share with parents so they can access these videos.  

Here are some sample videos from the Youtube Good to Know Playlist, just so you can get an idea about how awesome they are!  They intentionally move quickly because they are for a quick explanation of a concept for parents.  They aren't meant to be used to teach students, although they could be used to help students remember concepts that were previously taught. They sort of remind me of Ted Talks.  I love how they're made.

Feel free to pass this great information on to families of your students if you would like!
Another great site Annie showed us is PBS Learning Media.  You can browse by standard or by grade and subject.
This is a screen shot of part of the search I did for K-Math. It shows just a few of the clips that come up for that search.

Each little video clip is about 1 to 2 minutes, again, intentionally, to highlight the concept and keep the students' interest.  This is a wonderful resource, and it's FREE!  You can sign up at PBS Learning Media so you can make folders of videos you like and save favorites.

Peg + Cat is a wonderful show for primary students that focuses on lots of math concepts.  The kids love it and learn at the same time!  If you haven't met Peg yet- you'll love her.  At the site, you can play games and watch full videos or clips,

Our book has so many great ideas for centers and games, and lots of variations for each activity.  I hope you enjoy sharing them with your students as much as I do.  It comes out later this month and is on sale now before it comes out.  The set of Dr. Jean's Reading Recipes and Dr. Jean's Math recipes is also on sale now. 

 We want our students to be confident with math concepts, so they can say...

Thank you for stopping by! 


  1. I truly enjoyed this post! Such fun ideas to keep the kids engaged and loving math. I wonder if Dr. Jean would include a list of her songs to go along with certain math activities...Ha!! I'm thinking up more work. Sorry!! I'd love to see another book collaboration on writing as well, Carolyn. This is another strength of yours as I use many of your writing ideas from your blog. WONDERFUL!!! Congrats!

    1. Thank you so much, Sandy! That is a great idea to include Dr. Jean's songs. I know she has include many in the book! I appreciate you so much!

  2. This is such a wonderful post. I can tell you have a joyful, loving classroom from the smiles and hugs on the photos- loved it. Thank you, also, for the links to helpful sites. I shared them with our PTA to put on the Facebook page. I appreciate the time you took to share your creativity!! Julie

    1. Oh, thank you, Julie! I am so glad you shared the ideas. Thank you so much for writing!

  3. Oh, Carolyn, the book looks great! SO many good ideas! Congrats to you and Jean. I'll have it in my hands shortly! Kathleen

    1. Thank you, Kathleen! I am so excited for you to get the book! Xox

  4. Wow Carolyn, thanks for sharing your books. They look amazing! congratulations, lots of wonderful activities.

    1. Thank you so much, Dan! I am so excited for the book. Thank you so much for writing!

  5. This book looks wonderful! I can't wait to make the math class book with my pre-k class! Thanks

    1. Thank you so much for writing, Lyn. I think your class will love their math class book. It is so much fun making it, too! 😄

    2. Those ?? were actually happy faces when I typed them. :)


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