Monday, November 3, 2014

39 and Counting

     Last Thursday, October 30th, was the 39th day of school.  I spent some time in Kim Ballack's class, observing how she leads her kindergartners through the daily calendar routine.

This is a rich experience that goes far beyond simply identifying the date.   It incorporates both language and math, and there's music and movement, too!  Who doesn't love singing the "Days of the Week" song?

  I was especially interested in how Kim has her class keeps track of what number day of school it is.

Look how smudged up the ones place is, compared to the tens and then the hundreds.  What might the kids infer from that?

Here's the tally chart.  "One, two, three, four, number 5 shuts the door!"

Here's a flip chart.
And here's a pocket chart.  Kim uses this to reinforce patterning, both with the numbers and the colors alternating black and red.

Every school day, a straw from the green pocket at the far left is added to the collection in the ones pocket.  When ten straws have been collected in the ones pocket, they are counted, bundled together, and transferred over to the tens pocket.  This happens every ten school days, and is celebrated  as a "Bundle Day" with a special bundle chant and song.  The kids treated me to the song and dance even though we were one day away!

Unifix cubes are removed from the tank on the left and placed in the jar on the right.  Ten cubes are snapped together in a tower, and then (as with the straws), the entire collection is counted.

Wanting to get in on this action, I came bearing a gift...

A whole bunch of ten frames!
Kim made some space for it on a bulletin board, and we filled it up with 39 dots.   We had some catching up to do.

  All of our primary grade teachers follow similar routines, helping to build number sense and place-value concepts.  Often overlooked and underappreciated, these teachers do an incredible job.  And since we know that attitudes towards math are developed at an early age, their role is crucial.
   Here are some other ways teachers at my school keep track:

A number line reaching to 180 hangs in the front of this teacher's room under her big whiteboard.  Each school day the little owl is moved over one hop .

Top right corner: This teacher adds 1 cent every day.  How much money will be collected by the end of the school year?
How many other ways can we keep track?  Let's keep counting.


  1. Intriguing idea Michael. I've been thinking about this, but am curious to know how you would see it in a graph.