Preschool Years at Home

Laughing, Loving, and Learning Together

Math Before Breakfast

on July 25, 2012

Arithmetic, geometry, and fun!

Little Bear rolled out of bed this morning eager to start the day. After some good morning snuggles and a story to start the day, she pulled her Konstruk Tubes off the shelf, dug the project guide out of the canister, and flipped through it. A few minutes later she walked into the office, booklet in hand.

“Mommy, doesn’t this look like a clubhouse?” she asked?

I glanced at the picture she was holding and had to agree that the hipped roof structure looked very much like the clubhouse at our apartment complex.

“What pieces do I need to build it?” she asked.

Each project in the booklet includes a grid that shows how many of each type of rods and connectors are needed to construct the project. I showed her how to read the grid, then asked, “Do you want me to help you?”

“No,” she replied. “I want to do it all by myself!”

As she walked out of the room, I looked at my husband and said, “And that would be our math lesson for today!”

At first glance, she was “just playing.” But as she plopped down in the midst of 144 tubes and connectors to begin her chosen project, she had to identify the pieces she needed — matching, sorting, and comparing at its finest. She had to count out the correct number of pieces — basic arithmetic. She had to manipulate angled connectors to assemble the rods into a three-dimensional shape — geometry in action. She had to read and follow a pattern. And when her first attempt didn’t yield the result she was after, she had to step back, assess her work, find her error, and correct it.

She was indeed playing, but in the process, she was using more math skills than she would have used to complete any preschool or kindergarten worksheet. She was working not to please a teacher, get a good grade, or earn a gold star, but rather to accomplish a task of her own choosing. She worked diligently, persevering through difficulties until she reached her goal. Then came the cry of success:

“Mommy! Daddy! I did it! Look at what I made!”

She went out to point out the squares and triangles in her design, to compare her clubhouse’s height to her sister’s height, to see how many stuffed animals she could fit inside … more math in action, more meaningful learning based on real life experiences.

I guess I could have pulled a math book off the shelf and had her start the day tracing the number 4, printing a row of 4’s, and coloring all the groups of 4, but thankfully I didn’t. I’m pretty sure she learned more “just playing,” and I know she had more fun!

One Response to “Math Before Breakfast”

  1. Debbie Olson says:

    Now there’s a girl with a wise Mama. . . ;-}

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