Friday, June 26, 2015

Math Strategies You can COUNT on!

I've worked with an amazing team of bloggers to bring you a host of fabulous math strategies.  After you read my tips and tricks you can see these great bloggers for more ideas!
 Greg at Kindergarten Smorgasbord
Elyse at A is for Apples: 
 Bonnie Kathryn from Kinders & Beyond
Math is so much fun and it all starts with learning to count! I want to show you a couple of ideas that I use to work on counting actual objects with my kindergartners. I strongly believe in using dice to work on counting skills. Spots on dice help students instantly recoginze number quantities 1-6. This instant recognition helps build number automaticity which is crucial for beginning counters. There is a lot of research that shows that young students need to work on a skill called subtilizing (or instantly calculating groups of dots in sets). Dice games are a great way for students to build their numeracy skills. To differentiate my activities for different abilities, I start with one die for beginners, and add another if a student is more advanced.

I have a preschooler of my own who loves to test out my counting ideas - so these activities are kid-tested and approved! Already he is talking about numbers and realizing that a 6 is composed of 2 sets of 3 dots. He's making comments like 2+2=4. I'm so excited about his development of number sense that he is discovering through play! 

First,  in the classroom you should use high-interest materials. This means dinosaurs, bugs, rocks, and whatever else your kids will see as fun. High-interest materials equate to high-engagement.

I ran to my local Dollar Tree store and found some supplies. I decided to make a dinosaur game using this awesome biting dinosaur. If you don't have a dollar tree - you could use tweezers, fingers, or a sock-puppet, but these dinos are the greatest. Get them before they're gone! :)

I picked up a package of dice for my games, a couple of storage containers and two of these mini-tumble tower block sets, and a bag of rocks. 
I spent $12 of my own money on these supplies (don't forget to save your receipts for you educator tax deduction).  I got a few more things like wiggly eyes and foam sheets for other projects.

Dinosaur Counting Game

Directions on how to play this counting game:
1. Dump all of the mini-dinosaurs into a small tub.
2. Roll the die & count.
3. Use the biting dinosaur to bite the mini-dinosaurs and pick them up and put them in another tub. Count them as you bite! You could also place the dinosaurs on a ten-frame or number line.

 Here my 4 year old son is using two dice to add 3+3. He was so excited to figure out the sum all on his own simply by using the dinosaur to help count the dots on the dice. 
Not only will your students work on counting, but this is a great activity for fine-motor skills. Look at these little hands working hard to grasp the trigger to pick up the little dinos.

Expect to hear some growling as this game goes on. In the classroom this game could be played with a recording sheet if you wanted - students could write/trace the number they rolled, or graph it, etc. I know my students are focused and want their time spent simply counting - so at the beginning of the year I'll skip a recording sheet and just allow them to count. Their fine motor skills will be working as they use the claw, roll the dice, and count. When the game is finished, stash the supplies in a tub and put the lid on it! I know that this game will be a big hit in the classroom! Make sure that you teach expectations of using supplies like this so they don't get damaged or go missing!

Tumble Tower Game 

Directions on how to play this counting game:

1. Dump all of the little blocks into a small tub.
2. Roll the die.
3. Count out the specified number of blocks and begin building a tower/house/structure.
*You can play alone or with a partner taking turns building your own structures.
Make sure that your students know that their structure WILL fall down!
This is to be expected and encourage them to LAUGH about it instead of getting upset. When the structure falls down the game is over and they can play again.
Empty all of the blocks into a storage container (I used 2 sets!). Add in a die.

Empty all of the blocks into a storage container (I used 2 sets!).

 Here is my little man. He rolled a 6 and is beginning to build his structure. I rolled a 4 and started building the structure in the foreground.

Keep rolling the dice and building the structures. :) You will see that this game requires a lot of work using fine-motor skills as students pick up the blocks and place them in a stable position. It is fun to watch students learn from their mistakes. Students quickly realize that they need a stable foundation otherwise their structure falls down easily. This game works on so much more than just counting. 

Dots on Rocks

Directions on how to play this counting game: 

Use a paint pen like this Sharpie to write numbers 1-12 on rocks. Draw dots on different rocks to correspond to each number. Allow paint to dry.

1. Mix up all of the number rocks and dot rocks. Students sequence the numbers and match them.

Now this game isn't really innovative, but gosh it's so much fun to touch the rocks. Even as an adult I loved touching the rocks. It's a great variation to flash-cards because of the smooth texture. Your students will be begging to get their hands on this game.

Roll and Hide

Directions on how to play this counting game: 

1. Roll a die.
2.  Turn that rock over so the number is hidden. 
The game is over when they have hidden all of the rocks. They can continually flip them over back and forth for open-ended playing.
I used acrylic paint on these rocks and coated them with glossy mod-podge. Students will love the smooth texture of the stones, and teachers love the simplicity of the game. Put this in a little tub and your early finishers will have a counting activity right at their fingertips. Challenge students to count higher numbers by adding a second die and rocks up to 12. 

I chose to sort the rocks by size from smallest to largest before writing the numbers on them. It's a little scaffold for students who might not recognize the numerals.

5 Green and Speckled Frogs

Directions on how to play this counting game: 

To prepare this game you need a some blue and brown felt, construction paper, or scrapbooking paper.
I used E600 to glue the "log" to the pond. I painted frog rocks using acrylic paint, but you could use laminated paper frogs or plastic toy frogs instead. 

1. Teach the song 5 Green and Speckled Frogs to your students using a cd, book, or video.
2. Model how to subtract using the frog counters. 
3. Put these materials in a tub so that students can sing/retell the song on their own. 

 The frog rocks and felt log/pond mat fold right up and can be stored in a little tub.

All boxed up!

5 Little Ducks

Supply your students with 5 little ducks and one mama duck (painted rocks, or toys, laminated pictures of ducks, etc).  Teach them the song: 5 Little Ducks. They will learn how to sing/retell the song using the duck counters. I reused the frog mat and store the ducks with the frogs from the previous game. These could easily go in a sensory tub with colored blue rocks, real logs, and plastic bugs.
(here is a link to a youtube video)

 I hope you enjoyed seeing some fun activities to help your students to use for beginning counting and numeracy. Students need repetition, hands on materials, and lots of practice. 

Another fun way to work on counting is to have STUDENTS pretend that they are the animals in the songs. Print and laminate the mother duck and duckling (x5) signs and string them with yarn as necklaces. Choose students to take on the role of the ducks. They will love role-playing as the class sings the song. Did you know that there is a great website that has tons of free printables of story props that you can use for both reading and MATH? The website offers tons of free printables to make other counting games (Pete the Cat, 5 Little Monkeys, etc). Students love acting as characters and playing pretend! :)

Grab the necklaces here!

I added a frog necklace too (copy 5). Students will love pretending to eat bugs and hopping off a log as you sing the 5 Green Speckled Frogs song.

Aren't you excited to work on counting in your classroom!

My blogging besties have have worked together to bring you tons of great counting strategies. Click their buttons to hop over to see their math strategies and creative ideas.
 Greg at Kindergarten Smorgasbord:

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