May 11, 2012

Time to Tally

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Do your children have a concept of time?

Children who are older preschoolers should already know:
-There is day time and night time.

-It is light during the day and dark at night.

-People use clocks and watches to tell the time.

Children may find it interesting to learn:
-Morning is called AM and night is called PM.

-There are 24 hours in a day.  The first twelve are AM, and the second twelve are PM.

-It is not always light during the "morning" or "AM" time.  "AM" time starts at midnight, but it's obviously still dark then.  Likewise, it's not always dark during the "night" or "PM" time.  "PM" time starts at noon, but we definitely have plenty of daylight remaining.  Children will begin to see how what we commonly refer to as morning, day and night does not always line up with "AM" and "PM".  They will almost surely ask why, and -well- that is a very legitimate question, don't you think?

With just a paper plate and a few craft/office supplies, you and your child(ten) or class can make clocks!  Follow this activity for directions, and then enjoy moving the clock hands and reading the time.

We introduced counting by twos back in February, now we will try counting by fives.

Please note:  Proficiency in skip counting is not expected for preschoolers.  Children will practice this and become proficient with it later, usually in kindergarten.  We introduce it now because a) it is fun, b) there are some children who are ready for it now, and c) it gets children thinking about math in a new, creative way.

Counting by fives is tricky, but it's also very useful because so many things in our world are organized in groups of tens, and therefore also in groups of fives.

Skip counting is an advanced skill, so we are just exploring the concept.  An easy way to start is with our fingers!  Hopefully everyone has two hands with five fingers each.

-Count the fingers on your left hand.  5!

-Count the fingers on your right hand.  5!

-Count all your fingers together starting at your left pinky and finishing at your right pinky.  10!

-Put your left hand in the air out in front of you and say five.  Then put your right hand out in front of you and say ten.  Practice this a few times.  If you'd like, you can even start by putting both hands behind your back and saying zero.  0, 5, 10.  You just counted by fives!

-If you're ready for more, continue on counting 0, 5, 10, 15, 20 but don't go too far ahead this first time.  Practicing the lower numbers for a while will give kids a good foundation.

It is also helpful to do this activity with a hundreds chart.  You can make the numbers used to count by fives in a different color to help children learn the concept.  You can also print a hundreds chart and have children color certain numbers specific colors to show the patterns.  For example, color the numbers used to count by fives red.  Color numbers that end in seven blue, and so on.  This really supports learning number recognition and number patterns.

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In addition to using our fingers, we can also practice counting by fives using tally marks.  This is a good visual reminder that when we're counting something, there is exactly one thing (or one tally mark) for each number we count.  When we have a large number of things to count, tally marks help us keep track.

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Next Time
In our literacy lesson this week we categorized small, medium, and large amounts of rain into a little, middle, and a lot:

{When it rains, we hear a variety of words to describe how much it rains.  The terms "sprinkle", "rain", and "pour" are very common.  Print pictures of these types of precipitation.  Write the terms on sentence strips or index cards, and match them to the pictures.  Introduce the words/phrases "a little", "middle", and "a lot".  Encourage the children to identify which picture represents a little rain, a middle amount of rain, and a lot of rain, pointing to each one as appropriate.  Give each child a turn.}

Comparing amounts is an important skill.  Lots of things in our world come in multiple sizes.  As adults, we may take for granted understanding the relationship between small, medium, and large.  Children though need to be taught which is which and how they relate to one another.

What items do you have in your home or classroom that come in all three of these sizes?

Ideas:  books, remote controls, cups, forks, shoes, pillows, balls, dolls, trucks, pets, people, towels, clothes, bowls, stuffed animals.

Obtain three or four sets of items.  Set the small, medium, and large of one set in front of the child in random order.  Encourage him to arrange the items from small on the left to large on the right.  Continue with another set of items.  It may be helpful to try to put one set directly "beneath" the other in a row on the floor, creating a matrix.  Kitchen floor tiles are helpful for doing this, thus making an organized picture for the mind.  By doing it this way, you can ask the child to identify all the small items and he can point down the row, or identify all the medium items and he can point down that row.

How is it going?  Do you want to make it more challenging?  Try these ideas:

-Put all the items from all the sets into one pile.  Now try arranging each set in it's small, medium, and large order.  The child will have to sort by type of item (books, dolls, towels) as well as size.

-Add more items to the sets.  For example, use five different sizes of toy trucks or plastic bowls, and encourage the child to put them in order from smallest to largest.

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