So today’s a huge breakthrough day. Unlike virtually every teacher I know, my good ‘ol laptop, lovingly called “Old Silver,” blocks YouTube in my classroom all the time. If it’s on YouTube, I can’t show it… until today! I realized at lunch that I have another laptop in my classroom, and I found the Harry Kindergarten YouTube “Numbers in the Teens” song!
We begin the lesson with the “Numbers in the Teens” song. I forget that when a computer is first hooked to the document camera, sometimes the “screen” on the computer is not projecting on the “big screen.” I don’t want to take time to figure out the details of the screen issue, so I plug in the volume, and we start singing and dancing. I know I need to get the visuals adjusted so we can see the numbers projected as we sing them, but we are enjoying this new, funky song.
After singing the song twice, we count the numbers we have practiced—with our sign language signs. The students tell me that a 13 is a “1” and a “3,” which I write on the white board. “Hmm… a 1 and a 3,” I say, holding up 1 finger on one hand and 3 fingers on the other hand, “That’s 4…right?”
“No!” students say emphatically. I’m worried that we will be “stuck” with this explanation soon, though, so I get ready to start explaining.
“The 1 is 10, Ms. Novelli!” one of my turkeys announces from the back. I try not to visibly sigh in relief, but I am so glad that a kindergartner articulated that point (even if he didn’t actually raise his hand).
I quickly draw a ten frame and fill it with a dot in each section, and then I draw a second ten frame and ask about the dots to fill in. I ask a girl to tell me about the 3, and she explains the 3 is the “extra ones.”
I compliment her on stating the ‘3 extra ones,” and re-state that 13 is “10 and 3 extra ones.”
We walk around to quickly describe the independent activities, since I’ll be at my “teacher table” and it’s important that students know what to do.
We go to the watercolor table and I demonstrate writing my name first, because we don’t want lovely 13s with no owners. I paint the circles in the numbers as we count 13 together. Finally, I give a couple quick tips to keep the watercolor paints bright, and I note that if I keep the colors around the dots different, it’s easy to see the 13 dots on my “13.”
We move to a “job” that I absolutely love—building 13s with ten frames and construction paper cut-out circles. Most of the circles are cut for the kiddos, and they get to practice using white glue to make tiny dots to secure the circles to the ten frames. We talk about where to begin and how to “fill” the ten frames. The students know to choose one color to complete their number building, and we discuss how each student can stamp 3 circles with our special hole punch. We talk it out as I model filling in the blanks to “break down” 13 with an explanation about 10s and extra ones.
The ten-frame mats on the floor activity is getting pretty easy for some of my advanced students. I get out the 2-sided counters, and after modeling with just the red side, filling the frame and then setting out 3 extra below for my “thirteen,” and then showing how I touch each counter as I count, I also mention that if a student finishes early, they can flip some colors to yellow to see how many reds and yellows can combine to make 13. (I see one of my little “fast finishers” give me a funny look, so I whisper to him, “Yes, you can show different ways to make 13!” He smiles in response.
At the teacher table, I am working with a small group of five or six kiddos. My favorite part of this entire activity is building the number with blocks. There’s something about laying down that group of 10 and adding the extra numbers that makes the concept so concrete. If kiddos make errors on this activity, it’s usually in the 10 + ___ side, and really, all I have to do is ask, “Hmm… I see you wrote [whatever silly thing they wrote], let’s check your blocks you have right there.” Even my little guys with IEPs respond so well to having the concrete object right there for support. The boxes provide a nice space—not too big and not too small—to write 13s.
After math, it seems like we are always rushing to a “special” class, and today is no exception. I hold up a few watercolor 13s that have the dots clearly painted in a different color than the background, complimenting the great painting with the 13 beautiful dots! (If I get specific about what makes work great, student examples are even more meaningful... and next time, a few more students will produce similar results!)
At the building 13s with the construction paper dots, I point out how some of the 13s are so carefully glued, with a big smile. (I don’t want my little glue puddle-makers to feel bad, but again, if we focus attention to specifics, the students get great models from each other.)
Switching gears to talking about the ten-frame mats, I ask the kiddos who got to the decomposing part to talk about different ways they found to make 13. One little girl says “10 and 3!” I rephrase, “10 and 3 make 13?!” Students say, “Yes!” Another boy says, “6 and 7 makes 13,” and I act like I’m falling over backwards, saying, “Wow, really?!” Other students actually check on their fingers and confirm the 6 + 7. So cool!
I ask the kiddos what they liked about math, and they provide the same consistent, helpful feedback as usual. Not surprisingly, they like the watercolors and the glue and building the 13s. Thank goodness for hands-on fun!