Let’s start by watching this segment from Unwrapped on How M&M’s are made. I always like sharing this type of information with children as they often have no concept of how the items are created. This episode give a bit of the backstory as well as a tour of the facility where the candy is produced!
Now lets read another M&M book… yes, another fun math book using M&Ms! This one is called More M&M Math by Barbara Barbieri McGrath. In this book you will sort and then graph candy… so guess what we are going to do today!?! Sort and graph!
Instead, I sorted the collection of odd Lego pieces I have in my kitchen. Don’t you have an odd Lego collection somewhere? No? Well sort any odd collection you have. Maybe you can then convince your child to put them away when they are done sorting?
Help your child create a graph grid to fill in with the materials you are choosing to graph. I was lazy and didn’t get out a ruler, but doing it with straight lines helps a bit. Now sort! Talk about what you see. Which is the least? Which is the most? Are any the same? How many more gray than red? How many fewer gold than clear?
There are so many opportunities to incorporate math skills into every day activities. Since this week we have been focused on Pete the Cat getting ready for school, we should go find some socks and shoes!
Children love to help around the house when you make it a game… this makes laundry and/or cleaning up a game AND learning! BONUS POINTS!!
Have your child find all of his/her shoes around the house, if your kiddos are like mine, the shoes are scattered about. Now make sure they are a matching pair. Have your child put the shoe away with the right and left on the correct sides, see sneaking in another skill… and setting the shoes up to wear. Next time you do laundry, have your child sort and match the socks.
When we sort and match in school we use the words: sort, attributes, pair, matching, same, different, set
You can also have your child count the sets of shoes/socks. State: How many pairs of shoes do you think you have? (this is estimating) Ok, let’s find out! You will probably need to show they how as they will typically count each shoe/sock not the pair.
If your child is comfortable with numbers you can show them how to count by twos to see how many shoes in total. State: “Ok so you have 4 pairs of shoes, how many shoes do you have in total?” They will now count each shoe. “Do you think there is a faster way to count the shoes?” See what your child comes up with on his/her own and then you can show him/her how to count by twos.
Want to add in more… “Who do you think has the most pairs of shoes in our family?” “How can we figure this out?” Now you are comparing sets. Plus they will most likely straighten up everyone’s shoes in the process!
Sorting is often one of the first math skills taught in an early childhood classroom, and it is often forgotten after it is taught. Sorting is the concept of grouping similar items. The challenge is that often times teachers say “sort these bears by color.” “sort these blocks by shape” “sort these toys by type.” What is wrong with this? The teacher is doing most of the thinking. There is no need for a child to explain or discuss their thought process because they don’t have to really think.
What we need to do is have children explore sorting on their own and then ask questions. Can you explain how you sorted these items? Why does this piece go in this group? Where will this piece go? Can you sort them a different way? By allowing children to make their own judgement on how the items need to be sorted, AND asking probing questions we get children thinking mathematically.
Provide your child will a bin of items. They can be all the same type with various attributes such as a bin of Lego blocks that are different color, size, thickness etc, wooden blocks, marbles, or other items that are considered the “same”. Or they can be totally different items such as a lost parts bin (don’t you have one of these? a collection of where does this go things), items found in nature, or the bottom of your child’s toy box. Here the thing… it doesn’t matter what you use as long as your child can start to find connections between the items.
When children start sorting they are creating rules. This goes here because… This can’t go here because…
Rule one as the adult… do not assume you understand their sorting rules… ASK! We need to get children talking about math. They need to express their thinking and explain their logic. Remember there is no wrong way to sort as long as he/she can explain their thinking!