“Hey friends! Come on over by the white board and let’s talk about our great learning so far! Let’s talk about the number 9!” I begin.
I say our number-writing poem, “Draw a loop and then a line. That’s the way to make a 9!” We repeat the poem a few times, and we all “practice” with our magic writing fingers on our pretend “white boards in the sky.”
I ask 9 kiddos to write 9 on the white board. A couple kids begin to write “P,” but they self correct. Maybe there’s something about 22 sets of eyes on you that makes reversals a little less likely…
We go through our activities to practice 9. Of course, we have the All about 9 page with the teacher. It’s so nice to get to gather a small group of kiddos around and really explore different ways to show 9. When only a handful of kids are practicing with me at a time, it’s so easy to really see what each student is doing, and boy, quick corrections are a piece of cake when by buddies are only an arm’s length away!
We use our fall themed ten-frame mats to build 9s. I totally forget to use my leaf counters that I got in the dollar section of Target! The little round orange circles work just fine for counting, and we talk about how every spot but 1 is filled in each 10-frames. We label each ten-frame with a 9, written on a small piece of scrap paper.
We have finger paint again, and the kids are thrilled. I love the energy, but I’m mildly dreading the mess. We are such messy little guys and gals! When modeling 9, I make sure to show the “loop”—not a blob on top. (We get lots of blobs, but sadly, finger paint is a foreign material for most of my buddies!)
The watercolor practice goes a little more smoothly. We are more used to water colors, and the kiddos remind me to paint the objects inside first—there should be 9, they say—and then paint the area around the objects.
The kiddos are so excited, they can’t wait to get started. We take 8-9 minutes at each rotation, but there’s one group that takes a bit longer. Without a student teacher or extra help, I use Pokey Pin 9s to “fill the time.” Kiddos get to use oversized push pins to poke on a large “9,” poking away to get an imprint of 9 on a piece of construction paper behind. It’s mesmerizing to the 5 year-olds. I’m so grateful they’re 5. Otherwise, I don’t know how I’d be in two places at one time.
After a 2-minute warning, we make sure everything’s cleaned up and then get together before rushing off to another class. The kiddos really liked the pokey pins and the finger paint 9s, which is reassuring. Sometimes I wonder as I’m trying to come up with new variations on our practice… does my “creativity” make a difference? Student feedback is suggesting, “Sure, it does!” I tell the kiddos that I love making new activities, but I take my moment to nag just a little. I remind them that if we’re going to use finger paint, which really is so much fun, we need to make sure our paper towels are cleaned up and thrown in the trash.
Students mention that it’s tricky to make 9, and that sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between “P” and “9.” I ask if they like my “Turn your 9 around!” song, and they smile, nod, and begin to sing my silly made up song. (I do not know how or why I did this, but I made up a song to the tune of an old disco song that I’m honestly not even familiar with. I think the song is called or says, “Turn the Beat Around.” I sing, “Turn your 9 around…it is looking back-wards!” I put different numbers and letters in my tune as needed, and the kids actually smile when I point out reversals.) It’s really silly, but it’s… fun? Ah, kindergarten. I thank goodness I get to be in kindergarten every single day.