Cloud counting

Math.

Some of us cringe at the word, and some of us perk up and get excited. My question is how do we get young children to be excited about math, hopefully laying the foundation for them to be successful in math for years to come? I mean, if you start out feeling like you’re good at math, you’re more likely to work hard at it.

In my classroom, we don’t do math. We have Math Club (you will find this is a theme in my teaching). For some reason you label something “Club” and everyone wants to do it.

The Activity

Recently we’ve had units about the weather and spring. Even though children don’t know the saying “April showers bring May flowers”, they all know that it supposedly rains in spring. Of course, this was a pretty easy way to incorporate some math.

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My school uses a boxed curriculum, so I am given a lot of activities and discussion topics to do with the children. This particular activity was set up completely differently in the curriculum, and I’m not ashamed to say I totally changed it. I mean, there’s only so many bar graphs a kid can make before they get bored and it loses it’s significance.

Instead of doing a graph of clouds, I decided to do an “art project”. Ahead of time I cut out a bunch of white clouds and gray clouds. Super easy if you use three or four papers stacked together and cut through all of them at once. The children were given a blue piece of paper each, as well as a glue stick.

“Put some clouds in the sky,” was the instructions given to them. Those that asked for clarification were told, “Well, there’s clouds here, glue some on your paper. Any ones you want.”

When the children said they were done gluing, the math started. Each child was asked to count how many gray clouds they had and to write that number. Then they counted their white clouds and wrote that number. Finally, they were asked how many clouds they had total, basically add the cloud numbers together, and to write their total number.

I then talked them through it, “So you have 5 gray clouds and 2 white clouds. So 5 plus 2 is how many? Yes, 7!”

The Standards

Seems simple enough right? This activity, which can be adapted to pretty much any unit of study, fulfills the NAEYC Accreditation Standard:

2F.5 “Children have chances to see and learn about number concepts.”

2F.11 “Kindergartners and school-agers have chances to do addition, subtraction, and other numerical operations in the classroom environment.”

2F. 13 “Show or describe two examples of experiences or materials you provide that help children learn about number concepts.”

2F.18 “Show or describe two examples of materials or experiences that encourage kindergarteners and school-agers to do addition, subtraction, and other numerical functions using numerical symbols and operations.”

Was this helpful? What other standards or subjects would you like to see covered? Do you have some cool ideas that you aren’t sure will work in your classroom? Let me know and we can work together to help you be accreditation ready!