We’re living in very strange times. The world’s closed down. People are at home, some working, some furloughed, some looking after themselves or others, whose lives may be risked by catching the current virus.
Teachers are working really hard to maintain some elements of normality among the altered reality and, in different households, the capacity to support children with any areas of learning might be strained. Teacher capacity to identify and support individuals with specific help will also be constrained.
Children have been put into a situation where they are distance learning. Even as an adult, this can be a challenge, in motivation, resourcefulness and perseverance. Frustrations that might be expressed in normal times about “not understanding” what is expected may be exaggerated further by the expectations of a number of hours each day devoted to “schoolwork”.
This tweet, posted by an Aussie teacher made me stop and think.
But… home is not school, so the resources may not be available.
That, in itself, set off a train of thought and took me back to my first classroom, which I inherited with resources that were either twenty years old, or non-existent. There was a need to create, devise or collect resources that would support counting, matching and grouping. So visits to the beach might mean picking up shells to bring home, boil and clean to take into school. Autumn meant collecting conkers. I did try marbles, at one time, but, for some reason, they kept going missing… It soon became clear that anything could become a counting aid, so newsletter requests to parents helped with a variety of materials and the local sweet shop was a source of large, clear jars.
I thought it might be an idea to consider how to make resources from very simple materials that might be available in homes, provide useful activities in their development, then be useful in specific maths activities.
Let’s start with counting.
It’s possible that families are getting through quite a lot of cereal, or other boxed foods. The cardboard can be used as free base materials. A ruler, marker pen, pencil and scissors are needed.
The rules of each game are simply described.
· Decide whether it’s a race to or from the flat (100 square). Decide whether, when the dice are thrown, the numbers are added together (any number of dice) or multiplied (two or three dice?).
· Dienes materials available tin the centre of players, plus dice appropriate to the needs of the group.
· Each child takes turns to throw the dice and calculate the sum or product.
· This amount is then taken from the general pile and placed in front of the child. The calculation can be recorded eg 3+4=7. This can provide a second layer of checking.
· If playing race from the flat, the child starts with ten ten rods, then takes an appropriate amount from these.
· Subsequent rounds see pieces added to the child’s collection; recorded as needed, eg round 2, 5+2=7 (7+7=14; the teacher should see one ten and four ones)
· The first child to or from the flat is the winner.
Altering the number of dice alters the challenge.