“Hey friends,” I begin. “We have a combination of things that you LOVE for math today! We have…. Drumroll please…” (I wait as the students begin drumming their fingertips on the edges of their tables.) “We have… addition!“ (Cheers!) “We have number lines!” (Woo hoo!) “We have holiday—Christmas stuff—with pictures! Oh yeah, we have FUN ahead of us!!!”
We really like making books in kindergarten. We don’t usually make books in math, so this is extra special.’
”Now here’s the thing,” I continue. “You’re going to want to draw fancy, Christmas-y pictures. Pictures, though, are not what this is about. We’re doing math, so we will use our pictures to help us with our math. Even you great artists out there,” I stop and look at some of our super artists with my knowing smile, just for impact. One serious little guy nods in acknowledgement. So cute!
We move to our tables and the kiddos get ready to begin. We write our names on the front cover, and we talk about our job for the day. Word problems are really fun, and it’s a great to get kids involved. I tie in my strongest readers by having them read the word problem out loud while we all “follow along.”
Now, this is where close monitoring is essential. When it’s time to illustrate the problems, some of the students will want to draw fancy holiday pictures. For the first story problem, I model how to draw squares or rectangles to represent the presents that Joey bought. My page is being projected on the “big screen” so students can see that I draw the first group of presents in 1 color, and the second group of presents in a different color.
I keep it super simple, but I ask, “Should I draw ribbons or bows on the presents?”just to see what they would say. Of course, some of my turkeys say, ‘Yes!” That’s what I get for asking. Hmph.
“Wait—if our drawings are really basic, which is the way we already said they’re supposed to be, do I need bows on the squares & rectangles?”
“Ohhhh….” Students respond. “Then, no!” kiddos say, emphatically. (I just love those little guided questions to gently steer them on track!)
Next, we move on to the number line below, and it’s nice to see that our struggles learning addition on the number line last month seem to have paid off with a general familiarity with number line addition. Only a couple students struggle with adding on the number line, which is a huge relief!
Finally, when we write the equation or number sentence, the practice pays off, and the vast majority of us get the addends as well as the sum just right!
Due to the amount of reading required on each page, this activity remains Guided Practice, since we’re just not able to read and interpret word problems 100% independently just yet.
Throughout the process, the only time kiddos consistently get “off track” is when they try to make elaborate pictures. The pictures either waste time and cause the “artist” to fall behind the group, or the details become so distracting that silly errors are made.
For the most part, though, students experience lots of success with this!
Well, there are 2 disadvantages to all that Guided Practice: 1) we can’t see specifically what a child knows independently, and 2) staying together to get all of these word problems really takes a long time.
Our closing is shortened, but a few students share their work on the “big screen” and we talk about our favorite ways to solve word problems. Surprisingly, (or possibly not, based on all that number line practice we did in November), many students really like solving word problems with a number line. (They like the drawings, too, though. Heck, we’re kindergartners—we like everything!)