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Sparking Passion

Math Lab

Hello dear parents,

Theresa is writing to you, today. I have taken over the parent letter this week because I have to tell you about the math lab we are about to launch.

As a teacher of older children, I was annoyed at children arriving to middle school without a thorough grasp of times tables and their basic arithmetic facts. It has become my personal mission to be sure that our students are fluent skip-counters and agile number crunchers well before they are 10.

I have created a whole array of math materials that the kids can use during free time that will re-enforce the work that we do during class. There are play dough activities for the youngest children, two-digit addition for the older children, and lots of interactive, fun games for all of the children in between. The activities are color coded, so that the kids can easily find work that is just right for them.

In my math class, I am going to spend the week introducing “Math free time.” The kids are going to focus on getting learning materials and working independently. This is going to allow me to work more intensely with small groups of children several days each week. Much like our reading curriculum is focused on individual learners, and how Tracy already works with the older kids, we are moving toward this model for the whole school.

During the whole-group circle, I am going to introduce all of the kids to the activities and how to take care of the materials, so that they will be able to use them during choice time.

Here are some things that you might hear about:

Playdoh and salt numbers: Children can practice their numbers in the most engaging way possible.

Skip counting sticks: Kids will become more familiar with multiples and skip counting.

Calendar puzzles: There will be lots of chances for kids to re-inforce their knowledge of days of the week and months of the year.

100 number chart activities: Puzzles, coloring worksheets and hide the number games.

My first goal is to engage the kids in more mathematical free-play. My second goal is for any teacher to be able to say “I see you need practice with __________. Go to the math library and find something with a ________ sticker on it to practice that skill.

Please feel free to stop in and see it during the week or at next week’s Halloween party. If you want to follow-up with any of this at home, print out a 100 number chart, and leave it on your kitchen table. Talk to your kids about it, and let them show you what they know!

Our PreK Class

Our 3 and 4 year olds expressed excitedly that they felt the chill in the air, thoroughly enjoying being little leaves dancing and swirling to the ground before "snowflakes" covered their heads. Watch out for them testing their breath outside to see 'smoke' in the chill as well as keeping their eyes out for the first frost as the Fall comes slowly and steadily. We explored leaf rubbings and gluing/decorating pumpkin seeds to become autumn leaves on our trees. The letter 'E' was water colored. Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell got everyone participating as they followed a family through the grocery store and at home preparing a family meal, counting along the way. Besides our 'parade of colors' song and nursery rhymes, you can find them practicing what they learn during free play both in centers and outside recess/ in the forest. This sweet crew is asking a friend for a different color marker or joining in a friends' game without teacher prompting, each of them growing slow and steady each day.

Grab Some Gears

We had an expert on gears come to our class on Wednesday. Bob had the children handling a pile of different gears as they learned about the 4 types of gears: spur, helical, worm, and beveled. We learned that the first gears were created by the Chinese 4,500 years ago and were made out of wood. Bob explained and illustrated how different size gears can work together in everything from bicycles to windmills. He gave us the word "ubiquitous" that gears are everywhere in cars, trains, planes, clocks, and so much more. Every time I worried that this might all be a little information heavy for our youngest learners, Bob would ask a question, and all hands would rise in the air. His passion for his topic clearly carried the day.

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