Each day we begin our math block with an interactive online calendar followed by counting songs and videos.
We do calendar on Starfall every afternoon. This website has free reading and math resources for primary teachers. It also has a “more” option that requires paying a yearly fee. The calendar use is free. A detailed description of Daily Calendar math is included in the resources.
Counting with online sources: Today we did counting practice to reinforce the counting skills. We watched two to three number recognition 0-10 videos (one to two minutes each) because some of my students students were still struggling with identifying numbers correctly in random order. We watched "Shawn the Train" and counted objects with him to refresh our memories on how to count objects to ten and to reinforce one to one counting. Since we have started the second quarter of the school year, we added to today's counting practice: counting to 20 forward and back, counting by tens to 100 and counting to 100 by ones to get a jump on our end of the year goals.
I introduce this lesson by reading a counting book. Any counting to 10 book works to introduce this lesson. I chose to read 10 Furry Monsters because my kids really like it. They think the monsters are cute and they request it often. If you don't have Ten Furry Monsters, it is also available as a YouTube video.
Since my kids enjoy this book so much, they are more likely to participate in counting the monsters and they pay attention better. It's a win win for everyone.
As I read the story, I think aloud and demonstrate counting the monsters:
Me (A few pages into the story): There are 5 furry monsters now. I can touch each one to count it (I touch and count each one). That's less monsters than when we started. Every time a monster leaves, we have less.
I continue in this manner throughout the story. I use the words less and more at every opportunity because that is the vocabulary I want them using when they play the game, Grab, Count and Compare with their partners.
I finish the story and use poster paper to draw my version (I'm not a great artist) of some monsters. I draw three to start. I touch and count the three monsters.
I add 2 more monsters to the poster.
Me: Look, I added two more monsters. Now let's count them together while I touch each one. I count five monsters. I think five monsters is more than 3 monsters. What do you think? (MP2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively.)
Kids raise their hands. I call on a random student.
Student 1: I think you're right. There was three monsters and you drew two more so there's more monsters. That means 5 is more than 3.
Me: I like the way you explain your thinking. Does anyone want to add to that?
Student 2: There were 3 monsters and you counted three. Now there are 2 monsters that weren't there before. It's like you gave us 2 more. That's why there's more. Because you added more.
Me: Wow! That really makes sense and I like how you used words like added, more, and gave (MP6 - Attend to precision). I add 2 more monsters and we count them again while I touch each one. Now we have 7 monsters. Is that more or less than 3?
Me: Is that more or less than 5?
Me: Is 7 more or less than 10?
Students: Most yell, Less!, but a few yell, More! out of habit.
Me: Well, which is it? It can't be both. Is it more or less than 10?
Student 3: It is less because 10 is the big number of monsters the book had and I know that 7 is less than 10 because I have to count past 7 to get to 10.
Me: That's right! That's a great point. If I have to keep counting, then to get to 10, than 7 has to be less than 10.
Today you are going to play a game called Grab, Count and Compare. You are going to get a bag of blocks and you will close your eyes, reach in the bag and grab a small handful. The A's will go first. B's you will watch your partners to make sure they are counting correctly. Then the B's will close their eyes, grab and count.
You will count how many you grabbed and make a tower out of them (MP4 - Model with mathematics; MP5 - Use appropriate tools strategically). Then your partner will do the same thing. When you both have a tower, you will stand them on the table and compare them. The person with the taller tower will say, "I have ____. I have more." The person with the shorter tower will say, "I have ____. I have less."
Go to your tables and I will have the helper pass out the bags of blocks and we will practice one round together.
Management tip: Make sure the helper gives the students at each table a different color of counting blocks. This way, they can't mix up their blocks and you don't have to recount them each time they are used. Also, if a student misuses their blocks at a table e.g. chew on them or throw them, there will be no doubt who did it and you can address the issue immediately.
Once the materials are passed out, I have the A group close their eyes, grab a small handful of blocks, count them, and build a tower. I remind the B's that they are to be watching their partners and counting with them in their heads to make sure their partners are doing the job correctly. If you see your partner make a mistake counting or building their tower, POLITELY ask them to count again.
Are you ready?
Me: A's close your eyes. Reach inside your bag and take out a small handful of blocks. (I wait for them to do the first step). Now count how many blocks you grabbed (I wait). Now build a tower. B's, now it's your turn. Close your eyes, reach in the bag, grab some blocks, and count how many you grabbed. Now build your tower. Now both of you push your towers together and compare them. If you have the taller tower say, "I have (say your number of cubes). I have more." If you have the shorter tower say, "I have (say your number of cubes), I have less." Then take your towers apart and put the blocks back in the bag and play again.
After I guide one or two rounds of the game, I turn it over to them and I roam the room to help when needed, monitor progress and behavior.
I remind the whole class once in a while the steps in the process of playing the game if I see the same issue more than once while I roam around.
The goal of this lesson is to get them to play independently with little to no support from me at all.
Option: An option that can be added to this game after the kids are independent with the playing process is to add a whiteboard and marker. Then they each record the number of blocks they grabbed and the one with more (or less if you choose) circles their number. This prepares them for identifying more and less in number form rather than quantity.
Since this is the first time I am teaching this lesson, I stick to just comparing the towers. I will add the number recording after we have had two or three experiences with this game.
Notes: The A and B partners are pre-assigned by me. I partner High with Med-low kids and Med-high kids with Low kids. Pairing kids any more than 2 academic levels apart can frustrate one or both the partners and increase behavior issues in the classroom.
The bags of blocks are divided by color and counted out. They are placed as groups of ten in plastic sandwich baggies. We use those same blocks for many activities.
We gather on the floor to discuss how game play went. I list thoughts and ideas on chart paper. I ask:
What was one thing you learned while playing this game?
What did you like about this game?
If you could change something about this game, what would it be?
I call on three to four students to answer each question. I record their ideas and adjust the game if warranted by their feedback.
It sounds something like this:
Me: What was one thing you learned while play this game?
Student 1: I learned that the tower with more had to count past my number every time if I had less.
Me: That's a great observation. And that tells me that you are a good listener if you heard your partner count your number while he was counting.
Student 2: I learned that I cannot grab 10 blocks at once.
Me: (I chuckle) That's great, Joann. You're right. I can't even grab 10 at once and I have big hands. How many could you grab?
Student 2: I grabbed 5 one time and that was a lot, but Christopher grabbed 6. Maybe he has bigger hands.
Me: It sounds like you learned a lot about your partner today. That's awesome.
I move on to the other questions. One student suggests that we play this with dice one day. We should roll the dice, count the number of dots and build a tower of that number. I write down the suggestion and begin to formulate a new game.
This More or Fewer Worksheet exit ticket is quick and easy. The directions at the top of the page say to circle the group that has less. I use it for both. Today I ask them to circle the group with more since that was the focus today. I could use this same lesson to emphasize less and have them circle the group with less next time.
I separate the exit tickets as I collect them:
Misses 0 = Meets the standard
Misses 1 = Approaches the standard
Misses more than 1 = Falls Far Below
The Meets kids continue with the teaching and learning cycle as designed. The Approaches kids have a quick meeting with me to see if there was just a miscount or a small misunderstanding about something on the page. I usually clear things up with these kids in one quick meeting. The FFB kids are put in a small group to meet with me to have further direct instruction and support.