Opportunities for mathematical thinking are integrated throughout the
school day. Daily routines provide practice in recognizing and
sequencing numerals on a calendar and calculating attendance. Unit
blocks are carefully arranged to emphasize the mathematical
relationships between the blocks. Children use Unifix cubes, pattern
blocks, graphs and charts to support their mathematical investigations.
During the course of the school year they explore number sense,
addition, subtraction, estimation, equivalency and recording and
analyzing data. Five year olds are introduced to the TERC Investigation
program for more formal explorations of math topics.
Children in the 4/5s do a lot of cooking. In addition to being
fun and tasty, these experiences invite children to make logical
predictions and experiment with quantity, volume and time. They might
also visit a local grocery store to gather ingredients. The trip
provides many opportunities for classifying, creating categories, making
schedules and recreating the store back in the classroom where these
skills will be practiced time and again. Literature also offers many
ways to reinforce and clarify mathematical thinking.
The Same on Both Sides
The study of geometric shapes and symmetry begins in the 4-5s.
Students explore patterns, sequencing, whole-to-part relationships, and
comparisons as they observe and create symmetry with various mediums.
Two ears, eyebrows, two eyes, a couple of nostrils, a top and a
bottom lip. These parts of our faces come in pairs, and they sit on
different sides. Why and how do they work together to make a complete
face? The 4-5s wanted to find out.
First we took photos of our faces and covered the right halves. We
could see what we needed to do to make our faces whole. So we
drew…another ear, a second eyebrow, an eye, half a nose, a nostril,
half-lips, and a chin. We made our faces the same on each side! Even
though each of our faces is different, the pattern we drew had to match
its other half exactly. We wanted to play with this idea—it's called
If one half had to be the same as the other, could two people make
symmetry together? Mali and Andrea wanted to know, and they teamed up.
We put masking tape on a desk to divide it in half. The girls used red,
orange, yellow and blue tiles. Andrea took three tiles and made a
pattern. Mali had to match it! Then Mali added more tiles to her side,
and Andrea had to look carefully to match the new pattern precisely.
It wasn't easy.
"Annnn-dre-a!" Mali groaned, putting her head in her hands. "You
forgot the green triangle!" Andrea looked hard at her pattern—until she
saw the missing piece.
Soon everyone wanted to get in on the action. Students formed teams
of two and divided tables with tape. Using the tiles, they took turns
laying down patterns and matching the ones their classmates created.
Now we're seeing and making symmetry any chance we get—even with crackers and cheese at snack!