“We are gonna have some fun today!” I say, as we begin math. “Do you remember how we practiced ways to make 2, 3, 4, 5 “Flip Over! Flip Over!” (A few kiddos begin singing our little song.) “Do you remember 6 & 7…Number 8?”
“Jake’s parking lot!” a kiddo blurts.
“Yes! Exactly! And the Engine, Engine Number 9 for ways to make 9?!” I continue.
Kiddos are nodding and saying “Yes,” “Oh yeah!” and “Uh huh!” We are on the same track—that’s a good thing. Also, that was a quick tap in to prior learning, making sure that we are still somewhat familiar with the concept of decomposing numbers. So far, so good!
I show an old 10-Frame Mat on the “big screen.” One of my kiddos who loves to comment on… everything, all the time, announces, “We used that a long time ago!”
“Yes, we did!” I affirm.
“Well, to make 10, we will need to be sure that we always have all 10 squares in the 10-frame filled. When you get your 10-frame and counters please make sure you have exactly 1 counter on each circle.”
As my helper of the day and I distribute supplies, kiddos start setting them out on the 10-frames. It’s important to establish 1 counter per square before we start working with the 10-frames, so that the process will be faster and we can focus on the combinations that make 10… not where we are putting counters!
“Okay,” I tell the students. “This is my favorite part. We will shake, shake, our counters, and then we will set them out on them out—after they get shaken. Now… can we flip them over to get colors that we pick?”
“Students say, “Nooo,” very seriously. Then I go one further, (Other teachers may not have to resort to this, but with my turkeys, I need to be sure that we are clear on rules and expectations. Any doubt will result in chaos.) I pause to make sure the kiddos are watching me on the “big screen,” and I slowly, deliberately, flip a counter over.
“Mr. Velli!” My little buddy who butchers my name announces, “You can’t do that!”
“Hmm?” I pretend to act confused. “What can’t I do?”
A sea of voices announces, “You can’t do flip that over!”
“Oh… so no flipping. I can’t flip them over… and you can’t, either.” I reiterate with a smile.
We pick up our counters and shake them in our hands. I kind of dance around the meeting spot area while I’m shaking the counters in my hands. Students get a little silly about shaking, too, which is just great, as long as they are serious during our work time.
Now, when the counters fall, I have another stipulation: the red must be first. We go over the “Top-to-Bottom. Left –to-Right” rule, and I demonstrate sliding the red counters into the first spots in the 10-Frame. We do this several times, sliding the reds into the first positions, and I circulate around the room, helping the kids visualize that “first” place, remembering the upper left hand corner as the first “spot.” (Keeping the red first helps visualize the groups within the 10 and minimizes the temptation to turn the activity into a pattering activity or to “forget” one of the counters of a certain color. When counters are altogether, it is much easier to see the numbers within the 10.)
A few turkeys try to flip a counter or a few, and I swoop right in, playfully reminding them of our “No flipping!” rule. I keep it light, but they get the message: we move the counters by sliding them, and the way they fall is the way they fall. We can’t change them on our own.
Now, my class is the Guided Practice Kindergarten of America. (I gave us that title.) Any time—EVERY TIME I try to cut our structured, supervised practice short, we have disastrous results. (Okay, sometimes it’s just mildly disastrous, but now that we have officially started our 102nd day of kindergarten, I have come to accept this requirement with this class.
As we are practicing our shaking, spilling, and moving our counters, I am sure to have kiddos tell me their number combinations as I move all over the room. I’ll stop at one table and have a girl tell me “2 and 8 is 10” and then I’m on my way to another table, where a boy says, “4 + 6 = 10,” and so on, touching base all over the room, and giving every student that opportunity to articulate combinations of numbers to make 10.
After we have had our requisite TONS of Guided Practice, we move on to recording groups of 10 on record sheets. We still shake, spill, and slide our counters on our 10-frames, but we use the recording sheet to color the circles and writing number combinations to go with the combinations.
I keep moving all over the room, sometimes lingering by kiddos who all of a sudden forget the slide the reds to the first spot when we have crayons added, asking questions and providing specific feedback to get and keep them “on track.”
A couple times, I notice a kiddo who verbally told me the numbers “5 and 5 make 10,” but when he records it on his sheet, he has “10 and 10” Ugh! It’s easy to get discouraged, but instead I ask questions, “So, buddy, how may read counters do you have right there?”
He answers, “5.”
I don’t tell him he’s wrong, but I quietly say, “Hmm… is that what you wrote?” pointing to his “10” that he wrote.
“Oh, no! “ He says, beginning to erase with a smile.
After a 2-minute warning, we wrap up the activity. I place bins in the middle of the tables for students to easily (& quickly) place their counters. Before papers are collected, I ask for student feedback on the lesson. Of course they’re kindergartners and they do tend to love everything, but it’s fun to hear the specifics each day. They tell me they liked the counters and they liked coloring.
I ask if there’s anything they would change, and a little boy says, “Yeah, make math longer.” Ah, something is working right!
I get specific, really wanting them to focus on the concept. I remind them that we were making a number with different smaller numbers. Then I open it up… totally on purpose, of course. “Who can tell me more?”
“We made 10,” a quiet girl says.
“Yes, we made 10 a lot! Several times!” I affirm.
“Uh, we shaked and spilled…?” another kiddo adds tentatively.
“Yes, we shook our 2-color counters to get different combinations for 10! Who can tell me number pair that makes 10?” Students are a little nervous about this request, so I go to one of the “quick study” kiddos that usually has to wait until other kids don’t know or don’t have anything to contribute. (I want us on track and energized!)
He kind of falters, “Um… 7 + 3?”
“Absolutely! Let’s hear another combination!” Now they get it! Other kids begin referring to their recording sheets and share number pairs to make 10. Awesome! We talk about the different number combinations, and that 5 + 5 and 4 + 6 came up more often than some other numbers. Oh, this conversation could go on forever, but we have to go to P.E. It’s so exciting to see what knowledge kids can create when we have good conversation!