Each day we begin our math block with an interactive online calendar followed by counting songs and videos.
My class does calendar on Starfall. This website has free reading and math resources for primary teachers. It also has a “more” option that requires paying a yearly fee. The calendar use is free. A detailed description of Daily Calendar math is included in the resources.
Counting with online sources:
We do daily counting practice to reinforce the counting skills. In the first two to three weeks of school, we watch two to three number recognition 0-10 videos (one to two minutes each) until all students can identify numbers correctly in random order. Depending on time, we may watch "Shawn the Train" and count objects with him. I may also choose to rotate songs, videos and counting depending on time and skill needs. As the students become more proficient at counting and number identification, I begin to add additional skills such as counting to 20 forward and back, counting by tens to 100 and counting to 100 by ones.
You will need:
One large deck of cards per table
Snapping cubes in a variety of colors individually bagged or one tub for the whole table
Clean white boards
Dry erase markers (I use black only to avoid fussing over colors)
Wipe-off cloths (mine were donated cloth covers from computer parts)
If providing students with individual bags of cubes:
Place ten snap cubes in each bag, one bag for each student and teacher. Each bag should have all ten blocks the same color. The bags should have a variety of color as seen in the image.
First we count to 10 using our fingers. Then I show the kids a few of the playing cards. We practice reading the number on the cards and counting the large pictures printed on them. I explain to the students that we do not count the small pictures that are found directly under the numbers on the cards.
The Counting Begins!
First I introduce and explain the objective to my students. It is imperative that the students understand what they are being expected to be able to do and how they are going to do it. I have the students repeat to me what their goal is with the activity we are about to do. I also have them repeat the goal throughout the activity. I say, “The goal today is for each of you to be able to count out a group of objects to match the number on card."
I demonstrate for the students how to choose a card, read the number, count the large pictures and then place a cube on each of the large picture. I explain that I need to count the cubes to check my work and make sure that I count correctly.
I then ask the students what the goal for today is. I randomly pull sticks from the stick jar for “volunteers” to answer. I look for answers like “use the cards to count things,” “count out the number of things on a card,” “count how many.” I allow them to make brief, but accurate statements and will probe for more, “and how are we going to do that today?” I then have them state the I Can statement, “I can recognize, count and write the number of objects shown on a card.”
I clearly state procedures before we begin any activity. For this activity, I state the following:
Hands stay in your lap until I ask you to touch the bags of blocks.
The blocks are to be used for counting today ONLY. They are not for building.
The blocks MUST stay on your table. I should not see any blocks on the floor during this activity.
We then take our activity oath while raising our right hands, “I promise to keep my hands in my lap until my teachers says. I promise to keep the blocks on my table. I promise to use my tools appropriately. I promise to do my best work.”
I then pass out the bags of blocks or tubs of blocks along with a deck of cards while I have student helpers pass out white boards, dry erase markers and wipe-off cloths. Once all the materials have been passed out, we begin the activity.
Guided: For the first few rounds, I guide them step by step through the activity. I designate who will draw first at each table and then address by name each consecutive student per table until every student has had at least one turn. I carefully monitor by roaming the room to make sure everyone has the correct number of objects on their card and they have written the number correctly on their board. Since they are accustomed to drawing the number of blocks with the number I encourage them to continue that habit with this game. The table friends are coached to help a friend if they see them miscount or write the number inaccurately.
Independent: Now that we have practiced a few rounds, I let them play independently. I continue to roam the room and mediate or correct.
For this activity, I do not provide a specific exit ticket. Instead, I have each student demonstrate drawing a card, identifying the number, counting the pictures, placing an object on each large picture on the card, counting the blocks and recording their work on the white board. I use an observation notes page to record any concerns. If you prefer a counting exit ticket, the attached page could be used in addition to the monitoring notes.
I gather the students on the floor and we have a discussion about the experience of playing the game. I ask if they learned anything new and if they enjoyed the game.
I ask the kids two open-ended questions:
1) What did you learn today?
When I ask this question, I keep the focus of the conversation on the math. It's great that the kids learn to play a new game, but the real focus needs to remain on the mathematical reasoning learned in the lesson.
2) What would you do to make the activity better?
I leave this wide open and let the kids have fun with it. One student sincerely wanted to do this activity on the beach!
The kids make some nice observations and even suggest that I cover the small pictures on the cards so other kids would get confused in the future.