Teaching Preschool Math (with Fun … and Differential Instruction)

Catholic school education is superb for many reasons. Teaching about Jesus and the Gospel values is right at the top … but so is the excellence of our education. That excellence begins early here at Grace, and it begins with math.

Good math skills are critical to long term academic success, and should be taught creatively and passionately. Small children love math!

Children begin using math long before they know it’s good for them. The teacher is bigger than they are. Their friend has more cake than they do. The bird flies higher than the trees.

A good math teacher plugs into the fun – and usefulness – of math to help children learn early. Our work in patterning is a good example.

Patterning is an important math skill for young children to master (and it’s a good differential task).

I’m a big proponent of differential instruction. It promotes teaching to each child’s need. To do so, I test the children many time throughout the year, to keep apace of their changing needs.

Differential instruction in patterning has created 5 groups in my classroom. They include those who are not yet making a simple AB pattern, those who are not yet making an ABC pattern, and those who are able to make more complex patterns. The children know what group to work with when they receive their Ziploc bag and symbol.

Each Ziploc bag includes a card stock strip with a pattern to copy and or finish, along with the materials needed to complete or copy the pattern. The materials include legos, pieces of straw, Unifix cubes, paper clips, clothes pins, pom poms, multi-link cubes, math bears and many other fun little items. A few websites offer further info, below.

Here is a sample of how this may look in my lesson plans:

Group 1: (Blue rectangle symbol on Ziploc bags)

AB Bear Patterns – The student will copy the bear pattern that is represented on a piece of card stock.

Group 2: (Red square symbol on Ziploc bags)

ABC Bear Pattern – The student will copy the bear pattern that is represented on a piece of card stock

Group 3: (Yellow star symbol on Ziploc bags)

AB Bear Pattern – Student will copy and complete bear pattern that was started on a piece of card stock.

Group 4: ( Green circle symbol on Ziploc bags)

ABC Bear Pattern – Student will copy and complete bear pattern that was started on a piece of card stock.

Group 5: (Purple diamond symbol on Ziploc bags)

Other Patterns – Students will be given materials to create own patterns.

Check these websites for more info:

http://erin-specialeducation.blogspot.com/2012/01/unifix-cube-patterns.html

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Teddy-Bear-Patterning-Strips-196773

http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2009/12/pattern-block-activity-printables.html

http://www.communication4all.co.uk/Numeracy/ML%20Copy%20the%20pattern%20cards.pdf

http://www.geocities.com/thetoddlerhouse824/mathcenters.html

http://www.prekinders.com/math-patterns/

 

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