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We Are Mathematicians!

November 10, 2021 | Kristen Jordan

All year, children in the Rivers Class have been engaged in activities that involve mathematical thinking.  Some of them are obvious, like puzzles with numbers.  

Others may be less apparent, like noticing shapes during snack time. 

“My crackers are square!  So is that block!”

“The water bottle is a circle!”

Three dimensional shapes have been constructed at the light table as children work with and figure out how geometric shapes fit together.

Each morning, children build with blocks that are geometric shapes.  Working with blocks helps to develop spatial awareness, and children begin to notice patterns, as they learn which pieces work together.  Their minds are engaging in mathematical thinking as they build.  

Even noticing the design and symmetry in leaves is a way of thinking mathematically. 

And children have been very busy sorting and counting many different items. 

Children have sorted by color,

shade (light/dark),

and by texture (rough/smooth).

A popular activity was sorting the many treasures children have brought in from the park into categories: sticks, leaves, seeds, rocks, bark, and feathers.

Once things are sorted, it is also possible to consider how different amounts compare: 

“We have the most leaves.”  

“We only have 1 seed.” 

Sorting and organizing often makes it easier to count the exact number of items.  There has been lots of counting going on!  We have counted how many children are in the class and how many children are missing.   We have counted how many bears we have.

Children have played a game called “Grab and Count” where they close their eyes, grab a handful of the item, then sort and count it.  Children have been practicing counting many objects, like rocks and beads and pumpkins and chairs.  

For any item they count, children practice strategies to help count carefully.  First, they line up the items so they are organized.  Next, children touch and move each thing as they count, saying one number at a time to help keep track.  It can be hard to slow down and say the number only as you touch the object!  But it helps to make sure that you know how many you have.

Every day around us, there are opportunities to develop mathematical minds!

What might you sort or count with your child at home? 

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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