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How Much Baby Cereal Do We Have?

January 19, 2022 | Kristen Jordan

While you have seen a few photos of the children sorting and counting the baby cereal that we collected before Christmas, here are more details about all of the counting and math work that the children did to determine the total number of containers of baby food that the Rivers Class collected.

First, when children brought in baby cereal, they were invited to share what they did to earn it.  There was a range of answers from “helping to clean up” to “making cookies” to “taking care of my baby brother”.  These opportunities for conversation provide children with a way of thinking together about how, when they are a helper at home, they can in turn do something for someone else in need. They are helping in many ways.  What an important message!

Next, we spent lots of time organizing and sorting the cereal.  Sorting required children to think about different categories–shape, color, size, type of food, and they gained in understanding that there are different ways to sort things.  Organizing information is very important in many different areas of learning, but especially in math.  

We had to find out how much the children had brought so counting was also huge part of the process and several discoveries were made as children counted.  At first, when there were just a few boxes, it was pretty easy to count, but as more cereal came in, the children learned that it can be hard to keep track when there are so many things! 

And so, we talked about and practiced several strategies that can help to keep track as you count:

  1. One way to keep track as you count is to tip the boxes over so you know which ones have been counted (similar to the strategy we use for counting smaller things: touch the object and move it away as you count).
  2. Go SLOWLY and say the number only as you move or tip the box.
  3. When you try to count with a friend, sometimes you get mixed up because you are both counting the same thing, so it is easiest to have one person at a time move the object being counted.
  4. It’s important to check your count more than once to make sure you counted correctly!

Children counted many different groups of sorted baby cereal, but they knew that we still had to figure out how many boxes we had all together. “We have sooooooo many!” So, one child suggested that we could look at the groups that we had sorted and combine those numbers.

I knew that some children had heard of counting by tens and we related this to our hands; we have 10 fingers and can count those.  So we divided the cereal into groups of 10 and then, together, counted 3 groups of 10, plus 1-2-3-4-5 more!  Our practice with sorting, grouping and counting really helped with this part of the process! 

Together, we found that we have collected 35 boxes of cereal!  The children are excited to hear that soon the all of the food that they helped collect will be given to the babies who need it!  (Thank you all again!)

Kristen Jordan

Teacher, Rivers Class

Kristen Jordan began helping at Mustard Seed School in 2006, after her daughter had been a student in the preschool. She substituted for many years in all grades; in 2011, she returned to the classroom and has been a teacher in The Nest ever since.

Prior to the birth of her daughter Clara, in 2002, Ms. Jordan worked in Brooklyn as a first grade teacher with the New York City Public Schools. During this time, her school collaborated with the Brooklyn Museum, and this work helped Ms. Jordan develop a real interest in the parallels between the process of making art and the process of writing in the classroom. She thoroughly enjoys teaching both art and literacy to preschoolers.

Ms Jordan’s background includes work with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. While at Teachers College, she trained with esteemed educator and author Lucy Calkins. Early in her teaching career, Ms. Jordan did not think that she wanted to teach very young children but her view has changed! She now really enjoys and takes great interest in young children and their development.

Ms. Jordan enjoys reading, working out, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her daughter and family. Although she has lived on the East Coast for a very long time, as a native of Oregon, she really loves the mountains!

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