Water, Worms and Measuring

shadows

posted by Diann Gano

Have you ever seen a child with a tape measure? They are in all their glory! We have small tape measures that sometimes make it on our walks around the neighborhood. We like to measure seedpods, sticks, each other, our shadows, you name it. Did you find a worm? We are measuring machines. We like tape measures that are small enough to fit in a pocket, because you just never know when you will need to measure something. We may not know the numbers or what the spaces means, but it is fun! It exposes them to the concept and the visual number, when their brain is ready the important parts will fall into place.

mesauring tape

Living on the Mississippi River, each spring we get sucked into watching our beloved bald eagles. When we decided we should make our own nest, out came the tape measures! Did you know the average eagle nest is six feet wide? This is the perfect time to grab a tape measure and create a nest!

boys in the shrubs

We use worms to teach length and we sometimes measure them with tape measures but we honestly do a lot more observation and estimating with them because they are perfect just the way they are. We love worms. Did you know that worms don’t have teeth? Worms don’t have pinchers or stingers. They have no eyes, no legs, no arms. They will never hurt us. We try equally hard not to hurt our worms, but when you are two and investigating…well, sometimes it doesn’t end so well.wormsWe love worms because they help create healthy, beautiful lawns, which is hard to do when you have lots of two legged friends playing on it all day. People often ask how we “get” our kids to hold a worm. We read a lot of books about worms, we watch them for long periods of time, and if you have one brave friend, you are pretty much assured the bravery will come. Patience and calm, whispering voices can help also. Worms like moist ground, which leads us to water.

water pump

I love water play almost as much as I love blocks. When you have water in your play area, it is the equalizer among all children. Regardless of their age or language or social ability, water will bring them together. We love water play so much that we created our pump with the help of a buried rain barrel. Water gives us plenty of opportunities to understand volume and measurement and estimation. It turns dirt into mud, which makes it easier to find worms! It is a loose part. It may be my absolute favorite loose part. Be sure to add it in some form to your play area because it is so incredible.

This is one of our favorite stories, about water and time and discovery. We had our pump and I had some fabric in the yard as a loose part for making forts or whatever. These boys decided they wanted to capture water in the fabric.

I knew it wasn’t going to work, but why would I say no to such a learning opportunity. So,

boys measuringthe boys started pumping the water into the bright blue fabric.

 

 

 

 

 

HUH????? No way! Oh my goodness! Who knew that fabric was actually waterproof? collecting water  Ha! So now we had ourselves a project!collecting water The boys quickly decided this could create an amazing mote in the sandbox.

 

 

 

 

 

WOW!

boys with collected water

Another lesson learned in giving children long periods of time, never stopping the obvious and the importance of loose parts. Look at the delight on their faces! Okay, well maybe one is carrying most of the load, but the other two are thrilled.

 

Let them play!muddy mess

So, let’s talk some more about water and containers. Many cities are giving away rain barrels or offering them for sale. These make fabulous sources of water, specifically if you have a spigot for your child to control. Think of the math opportunities of measuring, estimating, mixing.   If you don’t have a water resource nearby, take some out with you. Think about milk jugs or buckets or big thermoses with spigots. Children love spigots. It gives them power to control something. You will also love having a source of water to wash your child before they return indoors.

Oh, how we love to cook. We do a lot of cooking around here, often outdoors, with loose parts and water. We spend hours mixing and stirring and adding and serving. Cooking is a math-athon of opportunities. (Yep, I think I made that word up. I like it!) It is important when you are cooking for play or cooking for actual consumption that children have their own bowls and utensils. It adds to the learning value. Watching your friend is not the same as having your own bowl, measuring spoons and spatula. We have been through many types of pots and pans and spoons and measuring devices. I recently jumped on a deal for a plastic children’s toy tea set to add to our play. I normally stay away from such things, but I’ll admit it, the price and the reviews sold me. Sadly, I didn’t love it. Within six months it was stained, and ugly and just not nice to look at. It didn’t seem to bother the children, but it bothered me. For the same amount of money, I could have purchased A LOT of real pots, pans, spoons, measuring cups and utensils from a garage sale or Goodwill. Keep it real. Include pots and pans, pouring pots for sure, and utensils and most importantly sand and water. We have tried to get away from plastic shovels but they really are nice for what we use them for. Metal shovels are sharper and heavier and just don’t seem to work as well for us. Metal works well for dirt. In sand, we use plastic.

coolking with mud

Sand. I know, I know. A lot of parents hate it. I promise you it will bring you hours and hours of deep, calm, investigative, creative play. The bigger the area, the bigger the creations and the more friends can play. Mud kitchens are all the rage right now and for many of the same reasons. I, personally prefer sand. It’s easier for me to clean up with a household of little friends. Sand, dirt, and mud are essential parts of loose parts play. Think of it as a short-term investment for long-term brain development. Sand and dirt support children on the mathematical learning journey. Children will explore space and measurement and shapes. They will start making comparisons of dry and wet and how that affects what they are building or mixing.

girl wiht leaf

This is where loose parts will come in handy. They are the ingredients and the spices. You will want lots of rocks, flower petals, grass clippings, native prairie grasses, sand, small sticks, and feathers. The more choices the better, because every experience changes the recipe! There’s a whole lot of math going on.

toddler baking wiht mud

 

 

cooking mud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I still haven’t sold you on sand or water play, let’s try rice. We color our rice with liquid watercolor, but plain rice is just fine. I have really gotten away from using our sand and water table very often. They aren’t nearly as easy to use as tubs on the ground. We like to use these big tubs. You could use those long, plastic storage containers for under the bed or oil drip pans from the auto supply store for a fraction of the price I paid for these, and the colors will be much less annoying. The long, plastic storage containers also come with the bonus lid, which is great for storage. We like to lay out a large sheet or blanket to help with clean up. Be sure to add funnels and all the utensils listed above. The measuring and pouring and learning will bring you hours of quiet time. The rice is very calming and it is so very inviting.outdoor sand tables

I watched these four-year-olds as they investigated the rice one day. I knew it was coming.

 

 

 

outdoor sand tables 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

outdoor sand tables 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

………yep, yep, there it is.

sitting inside sand tables

 

Good stuff that rice is. Just like a day at the beach. Cheap, because that’s math, and we like cheap. Buy the big 25-pound bag because like sand, more is better. Your child may need to crawl into it someday!

 

 

 

 

 

The Five Senses of Math

posted by Diann Gano

We spend a lot of time outdoors. Playing. That play involves math in such natural ways that it is easy to overlook how often math comes into our lives. Research has found that early math proficiency is a better predictor of future academic success, high school graduation and college attendance than any other childhood skill. (National Governors’ Association, Unlocking Young Children’s Potential: Governors’ Role in Strengthening Early Mathematics Learning

So, here at Under the Ginkgo Tree, we encourage that investigation and provide materials that support children’s development of math concepts. Outdoors, the process for mastering the fundamentals of math is truly enhanced in a holistic and inviting environment. Come see how we create these opportunities using all five senses for all types of learners.

SIGHTexamining a tree trunk

Regardless of the season, we often spend time seeing how tall or small our friends are using resources that are available to us. Sometimes we use tape measures, but often we have other ideas.

Adding magnifying glasses, kaleidoscopes, and binoculars will slow your children down. They will look closer, longer, and think harder. Remember, we are giving them lots of time to investigate and explore and enjoy their childhood. Add these to your play space!

measuring with apples

 

 

 

 

mesauring with carrots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

magnifying glass

 

 

 

 

 

dandelionsHOW MANY DANDELIONS?

Right! Three! Did you count? No, you subitized! We love to subitize. Subitzing is seeing a small amount of objects and knowing the number without counting. Playing with dice, you roll a six and without counting the 6 pips, you know it is six. We often play this game with fingers. We place both hands behind our back and then bring forward one hand with a few fingers showing. As they get better at this, we make it faster, or change the finger arrangement, or add both hands. We also work with subitizing outdoors with any given object. Kids love this game and I encourage you to play it often. Restaurants, long car rides, or waiting rooms are all great places to subitize! If you have fingers, and a bored child, subitize!

TASTE

cutting vegetables cutting vegetables 1 snacks

Well, this one is almost too easy. If you put six cookies in front of three children and tell them to figure it out…they will. F A I R is a favorite math word that we hear around here. Everyone has to have EQUAL amounts of everything! Every meal we serve has some sort of math discussion available.

I invited the four-year-olds to help set up lunch. When they asked if they could cut the cucumbers, we discovered lots of investigation on size, direction, more, less, and equal.

When it came time to put out the fruits and vegetables, they created sets and counted out tomatoes, cut sandwiches in half. We had a math buzz going on!

Cooking is a great opportunity to bring in math vocabulary and concepts. When cooking with children, we always try to have enough bowls, utensils and, of course eggs, for each child to make their own portion. Think about it, if you watch your friend whip up her award-winning recipe, it’s just not the same as doing it side by side with your own version. This also offers great opportunities for mentoring and scaffolding with their peers on tricks for measuring and cracking eggs. It may not seem like math, but it is. If your body and brain don’t have the energy to deal with the egg mess on any given day, we have been known to cheat with the infants and cracked the egg into the measuring cup. That counts as an egg turn for anyone not old enough to roll her eyes at the thought of it. (Usually your four- year old.)snacks

SMELLsmell dandelion holding an iris

Those little noses often lead us to food. We routinely have

discussions about how many raisins or chocolate chips are in our cookies. We also like to smell in gardens and parks. Did you know that there is a math pattern in nature called Fibonacci? Some refer to Fibonacci as nature’s number system. From the pattern of florets on a flower to the bracts of a pine cone or the leaf arrangements in plants, the same number pattern appears over and over. The basic pattern is 1,1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34… The next number is found by adding up the two numbers before it. It forms a spiral. This is a bit complex for most of the young learners in our program, but we talk about it and the spirals that we see in pineapples, and pinecones and flowers.

bunch of flowers

We often count the number of petals on our flowers. Last summer we planted perennials to our play space and included a number of flowers that include this Fibonacci pattern. Cala lilies have one pedal; euphorbia have two; triilium and some iris have 3 petals; buttercups and columbine have 5; bloodroot have 8, black-eyed Susan’s have 13; shasta daisies have 21 whereas other daisies can be found with 34, 55 or even 89 petals. Isn’t that crazy fun?

spring flowers

 

baby at fence baby ringing the bellSOUND

We live a block from a college campus and the bell tower. So every hour on the hour we have some counting sound opportunity in our own backyard. Music is an easy way to add math to your outdoor play space.

We have bells placed throughout our play area. We often have obstacle courses that include ringing a bell or drumming on a drum. Music is a big part of our lives. Singing songs, counting rhymes and fingerplays combine music and math. Really is there any better place for those loud drums, bells, tambourines and maracas? What were we thinking? These are outdoor toys!

 

 

 

bells on deck
baby with tamborine children with musical instruments

 

 

 

TOUCHacorns child holding an acorn

When you give children real materials to touch and smell and feel, the learning is deeper and more authentic. There is a major difference between touching real apples and moving them from basket to basket, than counting apples on a worksheet. Looking at stripes and circles on a page is not the same as touching and understanding that each rock has stripes or circle textures or has six shades of green. It makes sense to them. They control it. They aren’t rushed to move on to the next box on the worksheet. Give them real materials.

We talk about blocks and rocks often in our program. Those two things create an unbelievable amount of building. Building is math. We spend hours and hours building things that we may not ever even play in or with. We have spent days making forts. Sometimes, we don’t ever actually play IN them. We just build them. We build zoos, and fairy homes and squirrel traps. It is the building that is the fun, the creativity, and the play. Give your children time to touch, and think and process, and arrange and rearrange. It’s all good.stack of rocks

We also play games where one child plays a rhythm and the other needs to repeat it. There’s very often pattern play going on with this. For many children that rhythm and counting go hand in hand. When we follow singing commands to go in or out, or up and down, around and through, those build spatial awareness and reasoning skills that are important skills for geometry. Everyone is happy when we have music in our lives. Make your own or fire up Pandora!

Have fun this week noticing how often math is in your child’s life. It will make you smile and give you peace to know that you are doing just fine as a parent and an educator. Keep creating math environments and playing with your kids. It’s all quite simple. Put the worksheets away. It will come when their brain development is ready and it is relevant to them. Until then, just watch, listen and smell the learning coming their way!

 

 

 

 

Setting the Stage for Outdoor Math Experiences

posted by Diann Gano

rocks and shellsAs I look around me I see busy, happy children. Avery, Linnea and Anderson are busy seeing how high they can stack their rocks. Maya and Noa are near the sandbox creating a tea party for fairies, while Rowan and Parker are creating homes and meals for the squirrels over in the rain garden. It is calm. Everyone is happy and learning. We call this a play buzz.

When I stop and take a closer look, I recognize that not only is everyone happily playing, they are all working on math. M A T H! Did you know that nearly half of all children’s play involves math? (Seo and Ginsburg, 2004). The latest research also shows that early math skills are a better predictor of academic success than early reading skills! So here at the Gingko Tree, we are creating even more opportunities to introduce math concepts and problem-solving through play. As a family childcare with a Nature Explore Certified Outdoor Classroom, we spend a great majority of our time outdoors.

The environment IS our curriculum. When we add natural elements to their areas of play, it leads to playing in math-rich environments while creating and problem-solving in very deep and complex ways. As more and more classrooms and families are returning to the outdoors, simply giving our children the gift of time will lead them to mathematical play. It comes very easily to them without worksheets or number cards or dreaded memorization that may not be developmentally correct for where their brain development is at this time. As spring arrives, take this opportunity to create math-rich environments in your own backyard or play space. The only thing you can do wrong is not to do it! Bringing math into your outdoor or indoor environment is easy and even better it’s often free! In outdoor classrooms or family backyards, educators and parents are learning the beauty of loose parts in children’s learning and play experiences.

Architect Simon Nicholson, first proposed loose parts back in the 1970’s. Nicholson believed that we are all creative and that loose parts in our environment increase and empower that freedom to create. Loose parts are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. They are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials. (Kabel, 2010)

We like to think of loose parts as shells, rocks, sticks, acorns, feathers, pinecones, flowers, flower petals, material, water, sand, dirt, moss, leaves, bark, rocks, pebbles, pine needles, seeds and else whatever may be native to your region. We also use blocks, people, animals and other manipulatives. Loose parts can range from dramatic play props to play cars, pots, pans, and pouring devices. If your environment doesn’t already contain those things, bring it in. If you have those, take them out! We rarely take walks without bringing home all kinds of the loose parts or “treasures” listed above. Use what you have. If it’s little, and your child hoards them in containers just to carry around and create “things” with; your child is playing with loose parts! Take advantage of what you have around you. Those are your tools for setting up a math rich environment. Let’s get started!

Storage is an important part of loose parts because it gives a sense of order and allows children access and knowing where those materials are. Indoors, I try to keep our natural loose parts materials in wood bowls, sturdy baskets, or other natural containers that look nice and add calmness to my environment. Outdoors we have used galvanized buckets, plant containers, crates, or any container source that we have nearby. Use your imagination. I can tell you from practice, the happier the container makes you, the more relaxed you will be with loose parts. Also, be aware that buckets and baskets may get dumped from what you are “storing” to become a piece of their loose parts puzzle. That’s a struggle for me. Usually, it means I need more containers for them to carry around or create with. The beauty of loose parts is that they can be moved, and so the child has power to create new adventures every day. Storage and carrying pieces are an important piece of the puzzle.

buckets of shells

I recycled our spring planting containers. These worked out well, and were free! Win, win! We have these next to our sandbox. They are full of rocks, shells, bark, and birch branches today. We change our materials often. By “locking” these in under the fence, it kept them permanently placed without getting dumped.

buckets of rocks and shells

We have galvanized buckets in a wire window box. You can find galvanized buckets at IKEA, Farm Stores, and Amazon.

As more and more of your outdoors space becomes filled with natural materials and less plastic and branded play toys, you will see your child’s play change. It will become deeper, more focused and more creative. Trust me. It’s amazing.

Now we can bring in the materials! Do you have rocks nearby? Take a walk. You will find some. We have found some very pretty river rocks at the Dollar Tree. If you take a vacation, the rocks in different regions are often different colors, shapes, and textures. Add those to your collection. We love rocks and they often come home in pockets and backpacks.

rocks and feet

stack of rocks

We play with rocks a lot. They line them up; they stack them up. They sort them by color, size, and texture. All of that is early math. They use them for food and phones and building. They rarely throw them. Honest. Call them your math rocks. There are throwing rocks and math rocks, and we only have math rocks.

Find some shells. Goodwill, Salvation Army, and garage sales have been our gold mines for shells. Any found on your own are even better because there is a story and memory behind it.

picking shells

Bring in small tree branch slices, driftwood, bark or small twigs. We’ve used all of them. Pinecones, acorns, buckeyes will all add new discoveries and wonder to your math center. Children are full of math vocabulary, more or less, bigger or smaller, fair or equal. Loose parts will add this vocabulary into your child’s world on a daily basis.bucket of wood slices pile of wood slices

 

 

squirrel trap

It’s a squirrel trap. You already knew that, didn’t you? It’s also logical thinking, creative problem solving, measuring length and size, comparing and estimation. Whew! That’s a lot of math in a squirrel trap built by a group of kids under the age of 5. This is where that gift of long, uninterrupted time is so important. Fifteen-minute recesses are not enough. Give them time.

If you want to learn more or see great examples of loose parts, I highly recommend looking at Dr. Carla Gull’s Facebook page, Loose Parts Play. She has great ideas on there, and contributors from around the world!

We love, love our mancala boards. mancalaWe use them with shells, stones, seeds, and pretty glitter marbled stones. You could use egg cartons or ice-cube trays, also. These are perfect for one to one correlation for teaching numeration. You won’t need to mention that of course. They will play with them where they are developmentally at that moment. It will all come. You are setting the stage to make it come so very easily, through play.

geoboardsWe also use our geoboards a lot. Besides all the geometric shape experiences they create, this also works the small muscle development and fine motor skills they will need when it is time to start writing. It may not look like math to them, but we know better!

This is a “family” of leaves. It started innocently enough with a Daddy leaf and the play took off from there. Children are exposed to math vocabulary anytime size or comparison is involved. All these experiences are building blocks for early math development.

When four-year-old Gabe, discovered that the oak leaf was torn like the number three, it set off a flurry of creating numbers. We captured it on clear contact paper to admire and share with parents.

feathers

Math is all around us. Creating a math environment into your children’s play assures your child of future academic success. Including loose parts into your play area will create a learning environment that your child will be drawn to effortlessly. They will be learning. If you thought you needed worksheets or flashcards or screen time to prepare your child for school, I hope you will give this a try. You will be excited about the learning your child is experiencing. You will see it. They won’t. They will think they are playing. Which is just what we want our children to be doing. If you build it, they will learn. It will be fun for both of you! Go play!leaves in size order numbers

Where’s The Math?

Math is a natural way of thinking and making sense of the world. Mathematical situations arise every day. You have to be ready to notice the math all around us and to engage children in doing and talking about math. Attribute is a mathematical idea that arises very early. Attributes are properties or qualities that allow us to describe & classify the world around us. We perceive attributes of the world around us through our senses. Attributes can be used to group. Attributes can be described with increasing precision.

What might you see or hear if children are thinking mathematically about attribute? They might be matching objects, describing objects or sorting objects. They might be paying attention to color or shape or size or texture.  If you notice children noticing and using attributes, you might ask them: Why do these go together? Why do these not go together?

When adults are comfortable talking about math, children will share ideas without prompting. Here’s an example from a preschool classroom:

Chris & Tracy approach their teacher with excitement: “Look, our shoes are the same so they are a group! There are 4 shoes, 1, 2, 3, 4 … It is a group of shoes with holes”

crocs

Teacher: “I see you have a group of 4 shoes with holes. My shoes have little holes on the strap where I buckle the shoes. Can my shoes be part of your group?”

Chris & Tracy: “No, teacher, you have to have big holes all over to be in our group”

Teacher: “I see … you have made a group of shoes with big holes all over. Does anyone else have shoes that belong to your group?”

In a kindergarten classroom, a child runs up to the teacher and says, “A triangle equals a square!” Some teachers might say, “What do you mean? Triangles have 3 sides, and squares have 4. They’re not the same.” However, this mathematically sensitive teacher says, “What do you mean?” The child answers, “Come see!” The child leads the teacher over to the block area, where there are a lot of unit blocks for the children to play with. (Do blocks give you an idea of what the child might be thinking?) This is what the child showed the teacher:

blocks

Two square blocks can be put together to make the same shape as one longer rectangle block.

Two long triangle blocks can also be put together to make the same size rectangle shape.

Therefore, one of the squares takes up the same space as one of the triangles. In other words, they are worth the same, or, as the child says, they are “equal.”

This child was thinking hard about both the attributes of these shapes and the relationships between them. One might even say that the child was doing algebra, because they were using equivalences:

2S = R   and   2T = R           Therefore, 2S = 2T               Therefore, S = T

In both of these scenarios, the teachers are building the children’s understanding of foundational mathematical ideas and their confidence in using math to make sense of their world.

I hope that you will be open to the joy of finding math any time, anywhere with the children in your life!

What Are They Thinking?

posted by Lisa Ginet

It is hard to know what is going on in anyone’s brain. Even when asked to explain ourselves, we cannot always express our ideas clearly. Young children, who are still developing both their communication and reasoning abilities, have an especially hard time explain their own thinking in words or “showing their work” when they are solving problems. Why does it matter to understand what children are thinking about? It helps us to respond to them in ways that nurture competence and confidence.

So, how do we figure out what’s happening in children’s minds? We need to watch what they are doing and listen to what they are saying for clues, then interact with them intentionally. Here is an example from a preschool classroom:

From nearby the teacher has been watching Jenny and Samantha work with the materials at the sorting station.

two-children

 

 

 

 

 

materials

 

 

 

 

 

 

The teacher has noticed the children taking the straight items from the collection without talking and putting them on the black paper. The teacher also noticed that Samantha takes each item and rolls it with her hand before she places it on the paper. After the paper is almost full with items, the teacher decides to approach the children.

Teacher: Tell me about your group.

Jenny: Son Palitos (These are sticks)

Samantha: Uh… no..no

Teacher: Samantha you don’t seem to agree with Jenny. What is your group then?

Samantha: A group that rolls

Teacher: Are you saying that what makes this a group is that all the things in it roll?

Samantha: yes, see (Samantha shows how different items in her group roll)

Teacher: Could this be part of your group? (The teacher offers a circular wooden object)

Samantha: (Samantha takes the wooden objects and tests if it rolls) Well, it kind of rolls.

(Samantha then adds the object to her paper)

Teacher: What should we call the group then?

Jenny: Cosas que ruedan (things that roll)

Teacher: I can see why you are naming your group: “things that roll.” There are sticks, pens, brushes, markers, pencils, straws and round pieces of wood but they all roll.

This teacher is drawing from a repertoire of intentional responses that help to surface children’s thinking:

  • Stop & Look – Take the time to observe what a child is doing. Try to figure out what the child’s ideas or goals are.
  • Say what you see – Use precise, descriptive language to describe what you notice. Provide labels to actions or structures that are mathematical.
  • Re-voice what you hear – Use precise, descriptive language to echo and expand on what a child says.
  • Check with the child – Always ask child to confirm your understanding of their ideas and intentions.
  • Wait – Allow child the time to react or respond to an adult prompt
  • Use comments / questions to invite / provoke children’s thinking

We will never be able to be inside children’s brains, but we can closely attend to their actions and words, and then intentionally respond in ways that draw out their ideas. The more we understand about what children are thinking, the easier it will be to help them love, understand and use math.

 

Blogger of the Month- Sasha Fajerstein

Meet Sasha Fajerstein, our guest blogger for the month of October.  Sasha is a teacher of mathematics and an avid fan of all things “math.”  She is an innovative educator who makes math accessible for all students.  We are very excited to have Sasha share her knowledge about math education and how we can all benefit from understanding “new math” in order to support the children in our care.

Sasha Fajerstein currently teaches mathematics at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois. She previously taught at Nichols Middle School in Evanston, Illinois. Sasha received her Bachelors of Science in Mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. After graduating, she taught English in Costa Rica for a year before returning to the United States to teach math.

 

Sasha is passionate about trying new things in the classroom, and she works hard to integrate technology into her lessons. She recently piloted a new geometry textbook for High School students entirely on the iPad. She has presented at the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference and the Metropolitan Mathematics Club of Chicago.

Introducing the Guest Blogger for the month of September – Stephanie Forsman

I am so pleased to introduce the Math at Home readers to our guest blogger of the month – Ms. Stephanie Forsman.  Stephanie is one of my oldest friends.  We met while serving in the US Peace Corps in West Africa in the early 90s and have remained close friends ever since.  We have followed the same career trajectory; education, teaching, and a focus on supporting children and families and have been working together on the Math at Home site (Stephanie wrote dozens and dozens of the Math Lesson Plans you can find on the site).

Last year, I spent a day in her 3rd grade classroom. Have you ever been a classroom where every corner and space is dedicated to supporting the children with careful and thoughtful planning, where the children come in and clearly understand that “this space is for them”, and where education works?  Well, that is Ms. Forsman’s classroom.  I wish you could all go and visit.

Since that isn’t possible, I urge you to read Stephanie’s posts this month as she is going to tell you about how she thinks about setting up her space to support early math in the early grades.  Enjoy!

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Stephanie Forsman

Stephanie Forsman has been teaching in the NYC Independent School system for over 15 years. She received her B.A. in Art History and Fine Art from Trinity College in Washington DC, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali, West Africa and has a M.Ed in Elementary Education and Museum Education from Bank Street College in New York City.

 

Stephanie currently works at The Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn where she has taught 2nd and 3rd grades and is currently a 4th grade teacher. She has served as the Mathematics in the City school facilitator, presented workshops such as “Math Puzzles & Logic Games”, “Technology & Math”, “Napier’s Bones” at ATIS conferences and was the Math Subcomittee Chair for the 2013, ten-year NYSAIS school review. In addition, Stephanie wrote many of the math lessons found on the Math at Home website.

 

Introducing the Guest Blogger for August – Alison Balis Hirsch

Hello readers!  Today, I am pleased to introduce you to Alison Balis Hirsch: my friend and colleague.  Over the years, I have mentioned Alison in several of my own posts as I have always looked to her as a model for exceptional teaching and parenting.

This month, Alison is writing about setting up classroom systems that support early math competencies.  We thought August was a good month to consider these ideas as this is time of the year when we take a step back and consider our classroom environments and ideally make innovative changes. I hope you enjoy reading the blog this month and be sure to ask questions or leave comments at the bottom of the page.

Alison Balis Hirsch

Alison has been involved with early childhood education for over 20 years. She received her BS from the University of Massachusetts and her M.Ed. with a focus in Creative Arts in Learning from Lesley University. She began her career in Chicago, working in a kindergarten classroom and then in a pre-kindergarten classroom before becoming the head teacher and Executive Director of a non-profit preschool where she worked for 12 years. Alison’s focus is developing hands-on, creative activities that support educational standards and creating beautiful play-based environments that welcome, nurture and excite young children and their families.

 

In 2008, Alison and her husband relocated to San Francisco where they are raising their two children, ages 7 and 5. Currently, she volunteers in a variety of capacities at her children’s schools, collaborating with teachers within the classroom setting in addition to serving on a number of committees where she volunteers with other parents and early childhood professionals in areas such as inclusion, playground and building design, and classroom organization.

 

10 New Things To Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving – The Early Childhood Edition

Last year I posted a list of 10 Things to be Thankful for this Thanksgiving – the Early Childhood Edition so I challenged myself to think of 10 new things to be thankful for this year.  That makes 20 things to focus on as we move into this holiday season.

10.  Everyday small, chubby, soft hands reach for ours. 

9.  Nobody cares if we can’t carry a tune when we sing, and we get to sing everyday.

8.  At the end of the day when we empty our pockets, we often find crayon drawings created just for us. 

7.  Our work is never boring.

6. Nobody would notice if we wore our pajamas to work.

5.  When we put our music libraries on shuffle, an Ella Jenkins song might come on.

4.  Finger paint

3.  There is no such thing as “sitting all day.”

2.  The people we work with smell like fresh bread, talcum powder, and cinnamon sugar.

1.  Our work is monumentally rewarding.

Another Reminder – Child Care and Education Wages

This article reminds us all that the way we pay our child care workforce is shameful.  Read the first paragraph and pay attention to the way the author describes the teacher’s interactions with a young child in her care.  Her specialized training, experience, and dedication deserve a real living wage.  All parents want what is best for their children.  Well-paid teachers should be a given.