“Girls and boys!” I say, “I made a song! Can we test it out?” I ask. “Do you wanna learn it?” I ask, knowing they will most likely say “Sure!”
“Yes!” they exclaim, as predicted.
“Hmm… Let’s get 5 friends to stand in front up here,” I suggest, and select my helper of the day and a balance of wiggly and super focused kiddos to stand up front. “Okay, now, when you’re the last kid on the right looking out, you’re going to turn around and face the calendar at the end of the song, okay?” They look at me like I’m crazy.
“I’ll help,“ I say, with a smile. “Let’s practice.”
So 5 kiddos stand shoulder-to-shoulder as I sing, “There were five in the line, but at the end it’s time to flip over, flip over!” (to the tune of “Ten in a Bed”).
“Sing with me, friends!” I say, and we repeat the little rhyme, but when we get to the “flip over!” part, I turn our friend on the right end around. Kids giggle, including my now backwards friend. We repeat the little tune again and again, each time turning one more kid around, until eventually, all 5 of our friends are standing backwards in front of us!
We all get a great laugh, but I begin bringing in the math concept. “SO, if we had 2 frontwards facing friends and 3 backwards friends, how many friends would we have up here? I ask.
After students say “5!” I restate, “You bet! 2 and 3 is 5!”
“How about 4 backwards and just one frontwards facing friend? I continue.
“5!” kids state again, and I reaffirm, “Mmm hmm! 1 and 4 is also 5!”
“Hey—can anybody guess what we’re working on today?”
Kids guess, “Umm, 5?”
“You know it, smart friends!” I exclaim. “All the ways to make 5!!!”
The kids are dismissed one table at a time, and my helper passes out recording sheets with me. We have done a similar activity last week with 4, but the song makes this time really fun.
We begin on the top row with only the red side of 2-sided counters showing. We count to see how many we have—just to be certain. Then, over on the recording side, we talk as we write a “5” below the red side, and I really wait for kids to tell me what to do on the yellow side. Someone tries to suggest “5” for the yellows, but another friend just as quickly mentions that the 5 is all full with red. Loving this thoughtful dialogue, I sit back and smile for a second.
I model how to draw tiny red “reminders” under the counters so I know for certain they are red when I go to color them in. “The color really helps us see the different ways to make a number,” I explain.
After coloring the top row red and having the numbers written on the right side, I move the counters on top and I begin singing the song. “There were 5 in line and at the end, it’s time to flip over, flip over!” I say, flipping the counter on the far right to yellow.
On the next row, I make red reminder marks on the first 4 circles, but the last one is now yellow. We record the numbers on the right, and then sing the song again, this time flipping the last red in line to yellow. The activity—and the song—is repeated until all of the chips are yellow, and our numbers on the right side are now 0 and 5—the opposite of how we started!
We go over the numbers on the right, counting down from 5 to 0, and then we count up from 0 to 5, noting that when one side decreases the other side gets bigger, like a see saw. A couple kids earnestly say “Wow.” Only in kindergarten!
We talk quickly on our way to visit our buddies, and the kiddos say they really like the song. (It does kind of stick in your head, I notice!) They like the circles and the numbers, they tell me, and they like flipping, although one says he wishes he could really flip his counter, and volunteers to demonstrate. I suggest later might be a good time for his counter-flipping, and we get back on track.
Of course, the kiddos say they liked “everything” and that it was good, but I bring up the confusion a few kids had with keeping their circles in line and not coloring the wrong line or skipping a line. (It was tricky for a handful.) “Oh yeah,” they acknowledge. “That was tricky.”
When I ask how we could help them keep track of their lines a little better, there really aren’t any ideas, not even from my counter-flipping friend. “Let’s think on that,” I encourage, noting that some things aren’t solved in just one day.