My youngest son is currently in kindergarten. He has a fantastic teacher. She is creative, energetic, experienced, organized, and fun. She also encourages parents to come in and volunteer with the class. I love going in there even though it often requires a few Excedrin on the way out. Obviously, I enjoy getting a glimpse of my son's day. I also think it is smart of the teacher to use parent volunteers to work one on one with the kids on crafts or to make copies or cut out project pieces. freeing up her time for the important business of teaching. Recently I showed up in the class for my scheduled volunteering, but the classroom was empty. The kids must have been on their way back from gym or art class. I stood awkwardly in the middle of the room for a minute or two. I certainly wasn't going to try to wedge myself Goldilocks-like in one of the kids' chairs, and it probably would have been too much of an invasion of space to sit in the teacher's chair. I wandered around the room and ended up in the Math Center. It held various manipulatives, toy money and clocks, and some interesting books. My favorite was Sorting, part of the Math Counts series by Henry Pluckrose. It reminded me of the kinds of conversations I should be having with my kindergartner but sometimes forget about in the rush to get everything done. We could talk about the groceries and how to sort them. By color? By temperature? By size? How should we sort laundry? Another way to introduce those mathematical concepts of classifying, sets, and subsets is to play the old game "Which one doesn't belong?" That used to be my favorite part on Sesame Street (Sing it with me. "One of these things is not like the others...").
That same wonderful teacher who allows me to come volunteer and poke around her classroom bookshelves sent home a neat "Thanksgiving Math" assignment last week. It was designed to get the children to see the numbers in any situation, even Thanksgiving dinner. Some questions from the assignment:
*How many people were at your Thanksgiving dinner? Children? Adults? In all? (24, by the way)
*How many turkeys did you have?
*How much did the turkey(s) weigh?
*What was the house number where you ate?
*What time did you eat dinner?
*How many kinds of pies were there?
God bless my family, my sister-in-law's family, and friends who patiently helped Ethan with the homework and allowed themselves to be interviewed about their favorite part of the turkey for the Turkey Graph section of the assignment. Let me say this about them though, it's a good thing the "Thanksgiving Math" sheet didn't ask these questions:
*How many bottles of wine were finished? Red? White? In all?
* How many beer bottles went out to the recycling bin?
*How many sambuca shots were thrown back?
Had those questions been asked and answered honestly, Ethan's counting skills would have gotten a good workout but there might have been a decrease in my appearances on the parent volunteer schedule.