Name Towers

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SWBAT compare the number of letters in their name by making a number tower and comparing with their friends'.

Big Idea

Kindergarteners need repeated practice in comparing numbers and quantities. This lesson build on the previous lessons in this unit by having the kids create a working model of the number of letters in their names and comparing them.

Daily Calendar & Counting Review

15 minutes

Each day we begin our math block with an interactive online calendar followed by counting songs and videos.

Calendar Time:

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.

Direct Instruction

10 minutes

The idea of this lesson is to give repeated practice with comparing quantities and numbers. After repeated exposure to comparing numbers/quantities the kids begin to develop an understanding that the higher the number, the greater the quantity.

I read Chrysanthemum to the students just as I did earlier in the Chrysanthemum lesson. I think aloud about the length of her name as I read. Another alternative is this Youtube video of the book:

Me: Aw, look, they had a little baby! Do you remember who this little baby mouse is?

Students: Some yell Chrysanthemum and some yell flower :-).

Me: Flower was close, but Chrysanthemum is her name! Good job trying to remember her name. Isn't she adorable? (Even my boys agree!) Her mommy and daddy sure gave her a long name!

Do you remember when we compared our names to Chrysanthemum's? Let's review the poster of our names and compare how many letters we each have to how many Chrysanthemum has. We take a few minutes to review the poster.

Today we are going to compare our names each others'. We will be building number towers that show how many letters are in our names. I'll build mine first. Let's count how many letters are in my name (we count 4). I build a tower of 4 cubes.

I need someone to build their name tower so they can compare their name to mine. I'm looking for someone who is sitting crisscross apple sauce and has their hands in their laps. Anelyse, will you come up and build a tower with the number of letters that are in your name? (She comes up and builds a tower of 7). Let's compare my tower with hers (I hold my 4 tower up next to her 7 tower).

Whose tower is bigger?

Students: Anelyse!

Me: So Anelyse is going to say, "I have more." and I am going to respond to her by saying, "I have less."

Anelyse: I have more.

Me: I have less. 

Thank you, Anelyse. Keep your tower so you can compare your name with everyone. Okay, so you will all build a tower for the number of letters that are in your name. Then you will have 5 minutes to go around the room and compare your towers. If your tower is larger, you're going to say, "I have more." and the person with the smaller tower is going to say, "I have less."

Once you are all in your seats, the helper is going to give each person a bag of blocks. After you build a tower for the number letters in your name, come back to the floor with your tower.

Note: The helper gives the people at each table a different color bag of cubes. This prevents the bags from getting mixed up and makes it easier to manage materials. If blocks are being miss used, I can easily identify who is using that bag of blocks.

Guided Practice

10 minutes

After the towers are all built, we gather back on the rug.

Me: Everyone hold up your name tower (Students hold up their towers). Now turn to your floor partner and put your name towers together and see who has more.

The partner with the taller tower says, "I have more." The partner with the smaller tower responds by saying, "I have less."

You will compare towers with as many people as you can in 5 minutes and then we will sit back down on the floor and see what we've discovered.

Are you ready?

Kids: Yes!

Me: Okay, I'm setting timer for 5 minutes. When you hear the timer go off, come back to your spots on the floor and sit down.

During this time, I walk around and make sure the kids are lining up and comparing their towers correctly. I notice that some of them are not aligning the base of the towers correctly. I stop the activity and give quick additional instruction.

High five! (class signal for freezing and being quiet). Everyone stop and look this way. I hold my name tower up so everyone can see. When you compare towers, make sure the bottoms of your towers are the same. I demonstrate how to hold the towers up to each other properly. If you have a hard time doing this, walk over to a table and stand them up next to each other like this. I demonstrate standing my name tower on the table and ask a student to stand theirs up next to mine.

Alright, let's try this again. I restart the timer and roam the room to assist when needed.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

After our 5 minute guided practice, we gather back on the floor to discuss what we've discovered.

Me: Okay, what were some of the things you found out while you were comparing name towers?

Student 1: My name has a lot of letters and has more a lot.

Me: How many letters are in your name?

Student: There are 9 letters in my name.

Me: Wow, that is a lot of letters. It sounds like it would be bigger than most names in here. What else did you learn?

Student 2: I found a lot of towers that had the same number. What do we do when they have the same number?

Me: Oh, good question! What should we do when we have the same size name tower? What do you think?

Student 3: When they're the same we should just say we have the same. Like I would say, "We have the same" and my partner would say, "We have the same."

Me: I like that. It sounds like a great idea. Let's do that. It sounds like you're ready for a challenge. Are you ready?

Students: Yeah!

Me: Okay, this time you are going to compare name towers and then you're going to write your names on this paper (I hold up the work page). If you have more, then you write your name on the more side. If you have less than your partner, then you write your name on the less side. If you have the same number of letters in your name, you can write your name on the back of the paper.

You will get a pencil from your tool box and a paper from the helper.

I will set the timer for 10 minutes and then you will bring your paper and your name tower to your spot on the floor.

Ready? Go get your pencil and your paper and begin. I start the timer.

Exit Ticket

5 minutes

The exit ticket for this lesson is the collected names that are more than or less than the students' names. I check each name in both columns to make sure they are on the correct side. I do not sort this exit ticket because this lesson is too early in the teaching-learning cycle for students to be expected to be proficient. If I find an exit ticket that demonstrates a student has the concepts of more or less reversed, I meet with them for a quick 5-minute one-on-one conference to clear up the confusion.

See resources in section above for recording sheet.