“Friends, we have two of our very favorite things this afternoon: buddies & books! We are going to work with our buddies to make cool books all about adding or addition!” I explain.
“Let’s go down and visit our buddies!” I suggest, and we are quick to get in line and walk down the hallway to our buddies’ class.
I have already brought the supplies we need for math down to our buddies’ classroom: the books for each pair of buddies and number cubes for rolling.
As we enter the room, our buddies are already waiting on their big, lime green rug, and they have saved spots for the little buddies. (I just love buddy time!)
My buddy, Mrs. Conrad, has her document camera projecting on her “big screen,” and we model what the students will be doing. It’s fun, actually!
“Hi, buddy!” I say with lots of enthusiasm to Mrs. Conrad.
“Hi buddy!” she responds. “What are we doing today?”
“We are making a book! Let’s show our buddies what to do!” I reply.
We write our names on the front cover, and we turn to the first page. I give her the number cube to roll, and then I write the number as the first addend. Then we switch. I roll the second time, and she writes the next addend.
We talk about what we will draw to show our numbers so the kids can see what they will be expected to do. “Mrs. Conrad,” I begin, “I see you rolled a 2 as our first number to add. I can make 2 blue circles in our picture box,” I suggest.
“Good idea!” Mrs. Conrad encourages. I pick up a blue crayon and draw 2 circles.
“Ms. Novelli,” Mrs. Conrad replies. “You rolled a 3! I can make 3 red squares,” she continues.
“Oh, yes!” I reply. “That’s a great idea!” I turn to our audience and say, “It’s so nice when buddies encourage each other, don’t you think?”
“What do we do next?” Mrs. Conrad asks.
“Hmm…Well, we have numbers to add together and pictures of things to add…shall we count them up? Oh! What if we put a circle around the things to show that we’re joining them all together?!” I ask.
Mrs. Conrad circles the pictures in the box to make one big group. “Like this?” she asks.
“Sure! They are all together in one big group!” I announce. “Lets count them to find out how many we have all together! 1-2-3-4-5! 2 + 3 equals…”
“5!” students announce.
“Should you write the number, the sum, or should I?” I ask.
“Well, we want to take turns, and I just made the big circle around the group of things,” she reasons. “How about you write the number, the sum?”
“Good idea! We are taking turns for sure! 2 + 3 equals…”
“5!” students say as I write.
“Hey friends, my buddy and I showed you how we did 1 page in our book. You get to do 5!” I announce.
Since we are working with our 2nd grade buddies and there are over 45 kiddos in the classroom, we skip guided practice. Logistically, it’s very crowded, and the older students will be very helpful working with the kindergarten buddies.
As books and number cubes are distributed, instant differentiation occurs. The students who are doing well with addition get number cubes with 0-5 on the sides, students who struggle get 0-3 number cubes, and a few advanced kiddos get standard number cubes that could result in sums up to 12, (even though we have only officially practiced up to 10 in class)!
We are fortunate to have 4 adults to monitor student progress during this activity, and boy, does it come in handy! The biggest issue is not so much addition, but making sure the helpers don’t help too much. Sometimes, the 2nd graders want to do the work for their buddy, and occasionally, the kindergartner is a quiet, little worker while the 2nd grade buddy is goofing off.
Most pairs of buddies are working beautifully, though, so we can give specific reinforcements and focus on the partnerships that need some support.
We gather back together on the large green rug, and groups are called up to the document camera to share a page from their books.
We compliment all kinds of things: properly formed numbers, accurate sums, beautifully drawn pictures, circles around the pictures, great teamwork… we get specific, and we make sure that everyone who shares their work feels proud of a specific accomplishment.
After about 5 minutes, I ask the 2nd graders—not the teacher, but the actual students—“Is it okay if your little buddies take the books to read as we learn more and more about addition?”
The buddies, so big and so kind, unanimously agree to let us keep the books. We hug or high-five our buddies, and make our way back to Room 6. Some books end up in our classroom library, but many students want to take their books home. They are proud of their creations!