Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Big Numbers in Kindergarten

We've been thinking about large numbers in kindergarten the past few days. Hundreds, Thousands. Big numbers. Numbers that big can be pretty hard to visualize unless the teacher makes an effort to make the numbers real.

We're seeing big numbers. We're talking about big numbers. We're counting by 10's and 100's. We're feeling big numbers with our hands.


We're picking up the eucalyptus buttons that fall onto the handball court from the tree outside the kindergarten. The buttons are round enough and plentiful enough to cause a hazard to the players on the court. So we're picking them up, collecting them, and counting them. We just today counted our 1,000th button. I imagine that we'll count upwards of 4,000, maybe more, before we learn what we need to learn from this activity.

Our process is to pick them up and put them in a blue bucket. When it's time to count (some of) them, I hand each student a little plastic applesauce cup saved from snack. Each student picks 10 buttons from the bucket and puts them into his or her little plastic cup. We arrange the cups full of buttons in rows of 10 and count them by 10s to 100. The 100 buttons go into a plastic bag which, in turn, is pinned to the wall. See, here———

We count the bags pinned to the wall by 100s. This is what 1,000 Eucalyptus buttons collected in bags of 100 looks like pinned to the classroom wall——

To celebrate this milestone, tomorrow we'll eat approxiately 1,000 kernals of popcorn while watching approximately 1,000 seconds of a Tom and Jerry cartoons if our volunteer video supplier (or one of their back-ups) remembers to bring in a DVD. (This is quite a treat, as we haven't had a classroom party like this before.)

For advanced extra credit, help your kindergartner figure out how many minutes 1,000 seconds is. 


Jen said...

Hi Mr. Gurney,
I like you. You're the best teacher in the whole wide world! I like your songs. I like reading too.
Love, Savannah

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Savannah--

Thank you for leaving a comment here. If you look in today's post, you'll see yourself in the photo holding up your chalkboard. You're a great reader, writer, and speller, too!

Mr. Gurney

Matthew said...

Very Cool! Quick question Mr. Gurney - I'm with you in regards to TV. I don't like it. And Shelley and I both try our best to limit Patrick and Madeline's exposure to it.

But, being 2010, they do watch it. One of my favs as a kid was Tom & Jerry. But as an adult, I watched it a few years ago and laughed! But I also noted it is pretty darned violent!

One of my favorite quotes form you is the how you say our society is so militaristic (you were referring to Star Wars, I think)...

So, what are your thoughts on cartoon violence a la Jerry whacking Tom with a frying pan? I find it funny. And I did as a kid, too. But I'm wondering if it is a violent message? Or am I overthinking it?
Keep up the great teaching!

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Matthew,

Great questions! Thank you for asking them here on the blog. As a kid, my fav was Popeye. A violent show, as is Tom and Jerry. Yes, from my point of view it a very violent show. In my class, I've got kids playing combat simulations designed for adults, so in the context of our culture, Tom and Jerry would be seen as mild, I guess.

Overall, I'm averse to violence, but I don't live on an island paradise; I live in the US. So, I adopt a flexible position.....

As it turned out, the kids who were to bring the show flaked, all of them. So we saw

Are you ready for this?

Harold and the Purple Crayon instead. In spite of the dragon protecting the apple tree, it's not too violent.

Barbra Stephens said...

Math education and an education in looking out for others. I love taking care of our mind while keeping others safe and happy.
That is good sounds like good practice to me.
Great post, Dan.