Parent Tips for Kindergarten Room 141

May 18, 2020

Number Sense

It may seem that we keep doing the same thing with our exercises...and we can think about what we do in Math as 'exercise'.
We revisit often to 'exercise' what we know and to discover more in order to become stronger with our knowledge of it.

We aim to reach AUTOMATICITY.
(Webster's New World College Dictionary defines this as follows:  
the condition of being automatic, or the degree of this ...The ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low level details required)

When thinking about addition/subtraction facts, this is NOT about memorization - it is deeper, with a goal for knowing facts.
It is understanding how numbers relate to one another.  We capture this insight as we 'play' and explore with numbers...and come to an understanding that allows us to develop algorithms (a specific and logical procedure to be followed in order to achieve specific results, or to solve a math problem).

When students know and understand how numbers work on a basic level they are free to apply their knowledge and understanding in creative and unique ways.

Remember:  We cannot do enough counting in Kindergarten.  So count to your heart's content - forwards, backwards, by 10s, by 5s, by 2s, anyway that you may desire.

March 17, 2020

Some information to support your child's Math thinking:

Advice for Parents,
from Professor Jo Boaler

Do you remember how excited your children were about maths* when they were young? How they were excited by patterns in nature? How they rearranged a set of objects and found, with delight, that they had the same number? Before children start school they often talk about maths with curiosity and wonder, but soon after they start school many children decide that maths is confusing and scary and they are not a “math person”.  This is because maths in many schools is all about procedures, memorization and deciding which children can and which cannot. Maths has become a performance subject and students of all ages are more likely to tell you that maths is all about answering questions correctly than tell you about the beauty of the subject or the way it piques their interest.  Given the performance and test-driven culture of our schools, with over-packed curriculum and stressed out students, what can parents do to transform maths for their children? Here are some steps to take:

1. Encourage children to play maths puzzles and games. Award winning mathematician, Sarah Flannery reported that her maths achievement and enthusiasm came not from school but from the puzzles she was given to solve at home. Puzzles and games – anything with a dice really – will help kids enjoy maths, and develop number sense, which is critically important.

2.  Always be encouraging and never tell kids they are wrong when they are working on maths problems.  Instead, find the logic in their thinking - there is always some logic to what they say.  For example if your child multiplies 3 by 4 and gets 7, say - oh I see what you are thinking, you are using what you know about addition to add 3 and 4, when we multiply we have 4 groups of 3 ...

3.  Never associate maths with speed.  It is not important to work quickly, and we know that forcing kids to work quickly in maths is the best way to start anxiety for children, especially girls.  Don't use flashcards or other speed drills. Instead use visual activities such as:


4.  Never share with your children the idea that you were bad at maths at school or you dislike it - especially if you are a mother. Researchers found that as soon as mothers shared that with their daughters, their daughter's achievement went down. 

5  Encourage number sense. What separates high and low achievers is number sense – having an idea of the size of numbers and being able to separate and combine numbers flexibly. For example, when working out 29 + 56, if you take one from the 56 and make it 30 + 55, it is much easier to work out. The flexibility to work with numbers in this way is what is called number sense and it is very important.

6  Perhaps most important of all – encourage a “growth mindset” let students know that they have unlimited maths potential and that being good at maths is all about working hard. When children have a growth mindset, they do well with challenges and do better in school overall. When children have a fixed mindset and they encounter difficult work, they often conclude that they are not “a math person”. One way in which parents encourage a fixed mindset is by telling their children they are “smart” when they do something well. That seems like a nice thing to do, but it sets children up for difficulties later, as when kids fail at something they will inevitably conclude that they aren’t smart after all. Instead use growth praise such as “it is great that you have learned that”, “I really like your thinking about that”. When they tell you something is hard for them, or they have made a mistake, tell them: “That’s wonderful, your brain is growing!”

For more resources see

* I use maths, rather than math, partly because I am from the UK and we say maths there and partly because maths is short for mathematicS, it is a plural noun. Mathematics was chosen to be plural to reflect all the many parts of mathematics - drawing, modelling, asking questions, communicating, etc. Math sounds more singular and narrow (Do the math, usually means do
a calculation!), and I prefer to keep the idea that maths is a multidimensional and varied set of mathematical forms and ideas.

Online Courses for
Students, Teachers and Parents

Student Page

Parent Page
Recomemended Apps and Games

More Information about Brain Science

Jo’s Mindset Book
Maths Tasks to Do At Home

Summer Camp Video

Week of Inspirational Maths Curriculum

Feb. 11, 2020

Further to the discussion about Geometry and Spatial Reasoning ...

Here are some home activities/games to support development of Geometric and Spatial Thinking:

- a game with clear geometric shapes made up of varying number of squares in different configurations
- easily found at many games stores
- great fun (good for a wide range of ages)

- a game involving planning and strategising
- similar game NEWTON, where balls are used instead of discs.

- supports visualization, planning and exploration of grid
- position language

- visual dexterity
- image is recreated by manipulating cubes
- for ages 8 and up (can be challenging for adults, too, however, improvement in spatial reasoning is guaranteed - you will become more successful)

- a numbers game, but requires some strategizing around getting your chips organized in a row, therefor, some mental images and visual memory are employed.

* may be beyond Kindergarten, however, it won't hurt to expose the students to the game pieces - they can discover much by exploring them, working towards an awareness of how figures are composed or decomposed.

To discover more about this you can explore GESTALT on the internet.  Briefly, this deals with an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts (i.e., seeing how 6 triangles make a hexagon)

Feb. 10, 2020

Language input, Re: reading

A few students are finding much success with the early readers that we started reading at the beginning of the new year.  There are many early reading behaviours that they control well.  You will notice that they:
- know that text carries a message: sometimes they say the wrong thing, but get the general meaning of story;
- control print direction: they know it goes from Left to Right;
- control 1:1 correspondence: they say one word for every word they point to;
- use the pictures to support solving of text when the words are unfamiliar - this is context, an important cue;
- are building a sight vocabulary of high frequency words - offers 'anchors' that support solving text

We will begin to practise reading the text with our eyes only by removing fingers to do so.
The reading may sound choppy for a while longer as they train their eyes to track text. 
You may notice
- 'head pointing', as they bob for each word read;
- 'voice pointing', as they recite the story in staccato fashion
Eventually, you can expect them to sound more fluent.  A prompt of "Make that sound like talking" when the text is familiar and well-practiced will help them become aware of how they sound when reading aloud.

It's an exciting time and they are so proud of their abilities.  Let's ride that wave.

Feb. 10, 2020

Spatial Reasoning and Geometry

When exploring in this area of study, the focus is broad.
We are thinking about activities that involve much more:
- bldg, 3D thinking,
- moving from 2D to 3D,
- focus on visualizing and mentally rotating (key to success in Math.)

Engagement in activities that allow for exploration in spatial reasoning and geometry support mathematical behaviours that involve:
- geometry
-spatial language
- naming shapes
- ability to work with location
- visualization - that allow for doing challenging mental rotations
- mental manipulation of numbers

January 2020

We continue to work with various aspects (listed below) of NUMBER SENSE.  Many students demonstrate good control of these and are able to intuitively apply their knowledge in various activities.  Multiple opportunities have been created for the  students to practise, explore and discover aspects of number sense.

We will extend exploration into Spatial Reasoning and Geometry.  This will include a dive into SYMMETRY (very natural way for us to look at the world).  Often, students' pattern show this innate ability to create in a balanced fashion.  As we continue to explore this with PATTERN BLOCKS (a collection of 6 regular straight-sided 2D tiles - shapes include : square, hexagon, triangle, rhombus [x2] and trapezoid), the students will learn about TESSELLATION (flat patterns created by arranging tiles to cover a surface).  The patterns that are created by doing this can show balance along various LINES OF SYMMETRY which can develop into MANDALAS (a growing pattern, circular in nature) - a favourite activity in many colouring books.

November 27, 2019

As are some phases that we grow through as we develop number sense:

1.  Subitizing 
- this is the ability to see how much without counting.  Consider how you know there are 5 dots on the face of a die.
- at school, we play a variety of games with 'dot cards' (cards with different configurations of dots)
- at home, you can play board games with dice
2.  Stable Order Control
- knowing the counting sequence does not change - it's always the same
- at school, we play and explore this through games, puzzles
- at home, continue to take every opportunity to count and play simple board and card games
3.  1:1 correspondence
- when counting objects, each count corresponds to an individual item only once
- at school, we may have students touch the items being counted or have them move the items once counted, so that they do not counted them again.
- at home, do the same thing
4.   Abstraction
- the count is not affected by size - 5 big things or 5 small things or a mix of 5 small and big things is still 5
5.  Cardinality
- when counting a group of items, the last number counted is the number of items in the group
- at school, we play matching games with number cards and dot cards or other number of objects.  Also, we have the students build sets of things  (magnets on a 5 or 10 Frame) to match a number card.
- at home, play concentration games to match numbers to dots on card
6.  Conservation
- the number of objects in a group stays the same even if they are moved apart or together or placed in a different position
- at home, you will know that your child is conserving number if you put two rows with 5 items in them  (beans, pebbles) - one row with items the beans close together, the other with them far apart.  Ask the child to count each row, then ask if they are the same or which one has more.  If your cild answer, 'the same' then, your child is conserving number.
7.  Hierarchical Inclusion
- that any number includes all previous numbers in the count (5 includes 4, 3, 2 and 1)
- at school, we break collections of items into different groups to examine how many there are
8.  Order Irrelevance
- the count will stay the same each time , even if you count the items in a different order or start with a different item
- at school, we count and count and count again 
 9.  Composing and Decomposing
- any number can be separated into other numbers (5 is 1, 1, 1, 1,1; or 1,1,1 is 3; or 2, 3 is 5)
10.  Partition Rule (part-part-whole)
- a number is made of many parts - it can be decomposed and recomposed
- at school, we play a game called "Break it Up", where we build a number of a 10 frame with magnets and then pull it apart to reconfigure them in sets.
11  Anchors (5 and 10)
- these are important concepts of values. Students learn to relate their counting to 5 and 10 (6 is 1 more than 5).  An understanding of 10 is important for students to be able to unitize, understand the decimal system and, ultimately, use the numerical operations
- at school, we make observations about how these numbers relate to one another
12.  Unitizing
- the ability to represent numbers in the 'place value' system (10 can be represented as ONE group of 10 or 10 UNITS.  this is a HUGE step in mathematical understanding
- most Kindergarten students are not here, however, we expose them to this manner of counting in multiple explorations
- at school, we bundle straws according to this system in order to facilitate the counting of the number of days in school.
13.  Counting all
- an extension of 1:1 correspondence - students need to keep track of their counting so they know they have not missed or added items in the count
14.  Counting on

- this is a precursor to addition and subtraction - to be able to start counting from a known quantity.  (if students know there are 5 boys and 4 more are coming, they begin counting the next group at 6, 7, etc., ...)
- at school, we model takes a while to get to this point and may not be accomplished by the end of Kindergarten.

You can support this growth at home by following the suggestions listed above.  It can be fun and unthreatening to learn in this manner - no anxiety about Math performance.  Mostly, you can play simple card and board games with your children.

October 09, 2019

Thank you for practising the letters and their sounds with your children.  Many students are well on their way to mastering this.

When doing the printing practice to form the target letters, ensure that your child is taking the time to form the letters carefully.  Refer to the formation sheet, included in the folder, to help your child with starting points and direction for printing the letter. 

Review proper grip in holding the pencil.  Remind them about the 'Crocodile bite.'

Focus on quality not quantity.  Four or five well-formed letters may be all we need for good practice.

October 02, 2019

Well done with the math homework for those who received it last night.
Included in your child's take-home folder will be a sheet with examples of what other numbers look like on the 10 Frame.

August 19, 2019

This section of the website can be viewed by parents to find some background information about learning and development in the Kindergarten classroom.  There will be descriptions of materials used in the classroom.

Tips and ideas to go along with concepts and skills development will also be found here.

Language activities related to Letter ID will be posted in the calendar by referencing the focus letters for the week.  This begins the second week if school ( he week of Sep 16).  Printing exercises will be sent home in the Take-Home folder for each student.

These activities are not meant to add stress to your day.  It is an opportunity for your children to share some of their learning with you.  They can be done daily or as your schedule allows.

Math activities will be performed with manipulatives at school with hands-on experiences.  Some Number Sense activities will be included in the Take-Home folder following the start of the Letter ID sheets.

These sheets can be kept in the folder, as reference for both classroom and home.  Thank you in advance for engaging in these early 'homework' activities.