Solving Story Problems (and High Fives)
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We have been going strong since September and this week we are on Spring break. During the month of March we have been learning all about space with our Space and Sky theme from Experience Early Learning. In our Experience Preschool curriculum we receive a new set of manipulatives every month and they go along with the theme. This month we received a set of stars. We have done a lot with these stars, from tracing them to create our own constellations to using them in math. They have sat on our science shelf this month and the children have enjoyed using them during free choice as well.
Our Experience Preschool curriculum box also comes with a set of story problems to solve. Showing preschoolers how cool math can be is important. I like to make math fun for my preschoolers because math is something that they are going to use for the rest of their lives. I want them to enjoy it rather than have a dislike for it so early on in their school years. One of the ways I make math fun is to have math manipulatives out on our math shelf, including what we get in our curriculum box. Having new things to use as we practice counting each month really makes it more fun.
As we solve story problems each month we are working on breaking them down and focusing on one part of the problem at a time. We are working on 1:1 correspondence and slowing down as we count. We get a set of four cards and the last two cards are challenges. The cards get a little harder with each one. We have solved these math problems in small groups as well as individually. I strive to give my students one-on-one, and these math problems are a great way to work on math together.
I love the math activities that we get in our Experience Preschool curriculum box because the children are learning important math skills through fun activities like games, and that is how math should be in preschool - FUN.
My preschoolers have loved learning about space this month and are equally excited for our Ocean Dive theme in April.
I love participating in trainings. It doesn't matter how long you have been doing something, there is always something new to learn. One of the recent trainings I took was from the Applebaum Training Institute. One of the ideas they brought up in this training was "High fives." I quickly decided this was something I was going to implement into my classes. In preschool we are working on important life skills. We are learning to communicate with each other, be a good team player, be a kind friend, be helpful, keep our hands and our feet to ourselves - the list goes on really.
During circle time I introduced high fives to my classes, and how they could earn one. I made it very clear that if they didn't go home with a high five that it didn't mean that they had a bad day. In fact they most likely had a great day. However, I was looking for them to do things that I didn't always see them do. I wanted to see them implementing some of the skills mentioned above. When their class earns 20 high fives they get a Popsicle party and they are so close!
Some of the things I've been watching for is teamwork, communication, and kind hands and feet. In preschool we have to model the words that they should use in different situations. They don't necessarily have the vocabulary that we want to see them use when it comes to confrontations with a friend. When they don't know how to communicate what they are feeling this can resort in taking a toy away or using their hands to push, etc. Part of being a team in class means that sometimes we have to help clean up a mess that we didn't make.
When a student earns a high five I write on the back why they earned it. I have really appreciated this idea from that training because it has been a great motivator for most of my students. They are excited to earn a high five and show their families. I love working with each of my students individually, and this has been a great way to take a moment to say "Hey, I noticed you did something really cool in class today." These little people are working on some big goals and this has been a great way to show them I've noticed their hard work during class.