Today I had the pleasure of working with a lovely Kindergarten class at Jessie Lee Elementary to introduce Counting Collections.
I began by reading aloud the book If A Chicken Stayed for Supper by Carrie Weston. In this delightful tale, five little foxes sneak out of their den, despite being told by their mother to stay home while she goes out looking for dinner. While out playing, the foxes begin to worry that perhaps one of them may get lost in the dark. The eldest fox, Tufty, decides she will take charge and count her brothers and sisters. She taps each fox on their nose but forgets to count herself and mistakenly thinks they have lost someone. All of the foxes begin to cry. Next, the second eldest fox, Mufty, tries his best to count, pulling each fox's tail but again he forgets to count himself and ends up with a count of four. Again, the foxes think they are one short. In the end Mother Hen comes to the rescue and lines up all the foxes and taps each one on their head. The foxes yap with joy! "You've found one of us! Thank you! Thank You!"
I use this engaging story to springboard children's ideas about strategies they can use to keep track of quantities when counting. We discuss, what different ways did the foxes and Mother Hen use to help keep track? How do you keep track? To assist the students with one-to-one correspondence, we provided five and ten frames, as well as small soup cups for the students to use should they wish to. We explored how these 'tools' help us to organize our items and potentially see groups of items. For many students, having cups available to place one counting collection item in at a time, helped them to keep track. Sometimes at this age children will skip an item when counting or count the same item twice. Additionally, not all children have a solid understanding of the stable order of the numbers (e.g., they might say "one, two, three, five"... skipping four). Counting collections provides a wonderful opportunity for one-to-one correspondence, learning the correct of numbers, and cardinality (knowing the last number you say represents the total amount of the set) .
For more information about Counting Collections, please check this blogpost and under the Ideas section - Counting Collections.
Sept 29th update:
An important point another Numeracy Teacher (thank you Janice) reminded me of, is the focus on working with partners in September. Counting Collections is something we do with others. In the K class on Wednesday we discussed how we work with partners. How do we respond to a partner when we hear there name called with ours? We modelled some positive options, including giving a "high five" and saying "I'm happy to be your partner". In a respectful classroom community, students need to understand that they will be required to work with others in friendly ways. We included the students in helping us to determine how to work out who chooses the counting collection bag and who chooses the tools. On this day, it was determined that the taller partner would choose the collections. We also modelled how to help each other to organize the collections and take turns counting.
I've also had some questions about the yellow stickies. I've always had stickies and markers available in my tool kits for students who wish to record their estimate and/or to record their actual count. At this point in the year in Kindergarten, many students are just learning how to form numerals, so writing the numerals should NOT be a requirement. The stickies are there if students wish to use them, but many won't and this is fine. In reflection, I think I would take the stickies and markers out of my tools bin when working with Kindergarten students for the first several months, as writing numerals is not one of the learning intentions of this activity. If teachers were wondering whether their students could match a quantity to a numeral, there are many other, more engaging ways to do this (e.g., build a set, roll and make the matching playdough number)
I am a Numeracy Helping Teacher with the Surrey Schools District. Each day I am thankful for being able to work with amazing students and teachers in an area I am passionate about ~ Mathematics!
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