It’s our first day back from winter break, we’ve had a break since learning our last new number, 10, and we are moving into the deep end of the number learning pool! (Thank goodness we still have our floaties!)
We sit down in our “meeting spot” after lunch, facing the white board easel. I draw a number line, and we count. After ten, I blurt out, “Hey! What comes next?!”
The kiddos call out, “11!”
“Hmm… even is different,” I ponder. “How do I write it?”
This time, I call on a kiddo who will likely provide good information. “A 1 and a 1,” he says.
“Oh! Like 10, but 10 was a 1 and a 0! Eleven is 1 more than 10… a 1 and a 1!” I write eleven on the white board.
“We are past the ones!” I say, in my excited (kind of goofball, to be honest) voice. “We are into the big teen numbers—we are in the big time now!” I say with a smile. The kiddos smile back. It’s so funny how teacher enthusiasm has an almost exponential impact on student enthusiasm… and student learning.
I deliberately keep some of the same independent activities that we had back in to 0-10 numbers, just for familiarity. We’re doing new stuff, and some of my little turkeys who are struggling the most are still a little confused on 7, for instance. I need to ease them into the teens! I bust out our bumpy boards. We have used bumpy boards a million times, it seems, but on our Bumpy 11 page, the numbers leading up to 11 are written in order for us to trace. This stresses the concept that each successive number is one more than the number before it, and it also ties prior learning. For my buddy who is confused on 7, hopefully the familiarity of 6 will provide some support. Other than that, the same needlepoint forms and Masonite boards with duct-taped screens are on the table, with the peeled, “naked” crayons. It’s so funny how the kids still say “naked crayons” in reference to the crayons without paper, as if the crayons are somehow going to be embarrassed. Oh, kindergarten! We are so silly, but so happy as we work!
We have play dough mats as well, but the small party containers of play dough that were just fine before winter break are not quite as soft and supple as they were before the new year. Some of our favorite colors are too dry to use, but we press on with other colors. I don’t say anything when our “ play dough snakes” for 11 are a little chubby. I think with a smile, “Note to self: Check play dough after 2 weeks of no use!” (Thank goodness no one will have to know about my oversight.)
The newest activities are sending me over the moon with excitement. (I was so excited about my new stuff, I didn’t even think about checking the play dough!) I have written of my love of Pinterest. Sometimes, before I create something or teach something—and I am constantly mixing things up—I look on Pinterest to see how other people are teaching a concept. Imagine my surprise when I happened across a “Breaking Numbers into Tens and Ones” by Carolyn McCleary—100% free, but almost 100% to the “T!” what I was planning on creating myself. Oh, my lucky stars!
I remind the kiddos how we mentioned that 11 was “1 more than 10.” “This, my friends, is your way to build that 10 and 1 more—to really show that you know what 11 is… It’s not just a 1-1, and we get to show what we know! I have little strips of construction paper, and a couple hole punches that are about dime-sized. They’re bigger than a standard hole punch, and found in a craft store, but they don’t create super big circles.
I stress one very important concept: “You are building an 11—one number. To show your one number 11, you will have to use a bunch of little circles. I want the circles to be all the same color—to show that they are all the same number—11! So—can you mix up your colors of circles?!” I love to double- or triple-check.
“No!” students say collectively. Not satisfied, I call on specific kiddos. I will ask those a super-listening little angel or two, but I make sure to ask my Captain Distracted or my super spacey impulsive friends. After about 4 or 5 more answers of “No! The same color!” I’m thinking we’ve got that idea.
The final activity is an All About 11 recording sheet that helps us organize many of the different ways eleven can look. My favorite part is building the 11 with blocks. I made sure to “measure” what 10 blocks would look like linked together, and then I put a spot for an extra cube right next to the ten. I love the concept of literally building that 10 and 1 more! Then, when kids are having to trace the 10 and then write “+ 1” there’s a visual and experiential reference!
The teacher activity sets the "pace" for the independent activities. It takes about 7-8 minutes per group, and then we clean up our workspace and move on to the next activity. It flows remarkably well!
We’re in a rush, like pretty much every day after math. We talk about our different activities to practice 11, and students share their thoughts. It is so important to get student feedback after every lesson—it guides what I do with upcoming lessons! They liked building the 11s with the hole punches, but it took awhile punching out the dots. I think I will need to pre-punch the dots for at least the full 10 on the ten-frame, as gluing the dots and counting them out is time-consuming and strong conceptual practice. Punching out the “extra” dots—what makes the number a teen number—seems like a good choice to try next time.
The kids feel big working on the big numbers. The sense of pride that I’m hearing is so nice. It feels like we are off to a great start working with our teen numbers and building that concept!