Here are some activities for your classroom to add a bit of sparkle and creativity. As children work, ask critical questions such as "Did you try this?" "What would have happened if ...?" "Do you think you could ...?" to enhance children's understanding of mathematical ideas and vocabulary.
1 Use dramatizations. Invite children to pretend to be in a ball or box, feeling the faces, edges, and corners and to dramatize simple arithmetic problems such as: Three frogs jumped in the pond, then one more. How many are there in all?
2 Use children's bodies. Suggest that children show how many feet, mouths, and so on they have.Then invite children to show numbers with fingers, starting with the familiar,"How old are you?" to showing numbers in different ways.
3 Use children's play. Engage children in block play that allows them to do mathematics in numerous ways, including sorting, seriating, creating symmetric designs and buildings, making patterns, and so forth. Then introduce a game of Dinosaur Shop. Suggest that children pretend to buy and sell toy dinosaurs or other small objects.
4 Use children's toys. Encourage children to use "scenes" and toys to act out situations such as three cars on the road, or, later in the year, two monkeys in the trees and two on the ground.
5 Use children's stories. Share books with children that address mathematics but are also good stories (see Book Box). Later, help children see mathematics in any book.
6 Use children's natural creativity. Children's ideas about mathematics should be discussed with all children. Here's a"mathematical conversation" between two boys, each 6 years of age:"Think of the biggest number you can. Now add five.Then, imagine if you had that many cupcakes." "Wow, that's five more than the biggest number you could come up with!"
7 Use children's problem-solving abilities. Ask children to describe how they would figure out problems such as getting just enough scissors for their table or how many snacks they would need if a guest were joining the group.
8 Use a variety of strategies. Bring mathematics everywhere you go in your classroom, from counting children at morning meeting to setting the table, to asking children to clean up a given number of items.
9 Use technology. Try digital cameras to record children's mathematical work in their play and activities.Then use the photographs to aid class discussions, curriculum planning, and communication with parents. Use computers to mathematize situations and provide individualized instruction.
10 Use assessments to measure children's mathematics learning. Observations, discussions with children, and small-group activities help you learn about children's mathematical thinking and to make informed decisions about what each child can learn from future experiences.