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.