YOU CAN SEE THE POWER OF LOGICAL, MATHEMATICAE THINKING at work as children build block towers, create clay sculptures, and divide into groups for all kinds of other activities. Mathematical thinking is an important component of a wide range of functions, both in and out of the classroom. Here are some ways to foster mathematical thinking in your program:
Exploring With all the Senses!
Provide plenty of interesting materials, and give children the chance to freely manipulate them however they would like. Blocks of all different sizes, paper tubes, gears-the sky's the limit!
Smart Toys, Smarter Kids
According to educational psychologist Yolanda Jenkins, a good piece of software lets a child interact with his own thinking. Instant feedback gives children the tools they need to accommodate and assimilate information faster. That is, of course, if the software is well designed. Simple logic and sorting games, such as Concentration and Ticktacktoe, all provide mental flexing opportunities. These activities abound in the Leapster, a portable computing platform, and the new computer program Little Bill Thinks Big from Scholastic.
Computers are excellent tools for helping children visualize mathematical relationships. Use software such as The Graph Club from Tom Snyder Productions for graph-making activities.
Ideas That Work
What's the best example of using a computer for logic and math? I posted this question on the National Association for the Education of Young Children's "Technology & Young Children Interest Forum" at techandyoungchildren.org. Here are some of the responses:
Amy Betz, from the Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood, at Western Illinois University, informs us that they have a new curriculum, titled "Young Children as Explorers: Interactive Learning Experiences." It focuses on math, science, and social studies, and on how software can be used to address these content areas. For information, please visit wiu.edu/thecenter/eccsploreit.
Sudha Swaminathan, associate professor of early childhood education in the math education department at Eastern Connecticut State University, says, "I have personally never found anything to match the power offered by Logo Microworlds. There are several versions available. I am continually touched by the challenges it offers children. If I could pick a few favorite Logo Web sites, I would probably select microworlds.com. I like their project library and the many links they provide (both school based and research oriented), together with ideas for many curriculum areas. I also like mathcats.com. There are many student examples there, from across the world. I also like the i-lesson on nctm.org [Web site of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics]. It's simple, yet powerful, as an introduction to Logo."