Sunday, September 5, 2010

Counting to 2,000!

We carry small red plastic buckets out to the asphalt playground and collect the eucalyptus fruit that fall from the adjacent Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus) tree.

The hard fruit that fall from the tree have a conical shape that rolls underfoot. A large accumulation of these fruit can make a hazardous surface for beginning bike riders and running kindergartners. So we pick them up.

Gathering fruit comes so naturally to kindergartners. It's deep in our genes.

We count our cache carefully into small plastic applesauce cups saved from the trash. Each cup holds 10 fruit. At this point of the year, most students can get exactly 10 in the cup. But a few kids are still filling the cup without regard to number. Counting to 10 becomes a daily lesson for these students. They will get more practice than their classmates until they can count accurately to 10.

 Here are 16 cups with 160 eucalyptus fruit arrayed on a table in front of the room.

In this video taken on the thirteenth day of kindergarten you can see as my student teacher, Mrs. Gronlund, leads the class in counting by tens to one hundred and dumps 10 cups—each cup holds 10 fruit—into a plastic bag. In this way we count by 10s to 100 with actual materials they've picked up. Even though we've done it 18 times before, we're still not in unison. It will get crisper by the time we've reached 5,000.

In this next clip we count bags of 100 eucalyptus buttons that we have assembled during the first two weeks of school. We're getting practice counting big numbers but also practicing the 1,2,3 pattern for the handful of kids who still can't count by ones to 10 or really know what “hundred” means.

They’ll get there. You can count on it.


Lynola said...

That's really neat. Do you do this all year? What do you do with all the eucalyptus buttons at the end of the year?

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Lynola, thank you for leaving a comment. We won't do it all year, probably, but we will keep it up for long enough that we're snappier at counting by 10s to 100 and until almost everyone UNDERSTANDS the idea of counting by 10s. I'm guessing we'll go past 5,000.... that's 50 repetitions of the activity you see on film. That's about what it takes.

As to what to do with the eucalptus fruit.... do you have a good idea? I'm not sure. We'll have an awful lot of them.

Lynola said...

I'm not familiar with them. Do they smell good? Could you use them for some sort of Christmas decorations? Or glue them for your names instead of using beans. Throw them in the art center and let the children decide what to do... I think it's a great math idea. The first grade teachers probably appreciate it too!

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Lynola,

They have a sharp and quite distinct odor. It is used in some medicines and as a flea repellent for dog beds and so on. I think they'd be good in an art center. Maybe I can drill holes in them and we can string them. They could be sorted in the math center.... now you got me thinking.