Saturday, December 3, 2011
Big Blocks Big Fun Big Concepts.
Lately there seems to be a bit of a resurgence in understanding that those big wooden blocks had more purpose than meets the eye.
There are also articles appearing on blogs like this one and others. People seem to be rediscovering a very simple idea. Early is better when it comes to language, and math is a language. Further, the more senses you use the more learning takes place and the easier it is to understand. The brain likes multiple inputs.
addition and multiplication...just by asking simple questions. What if all the blocks were little ones...well them the bottom blocks would take four...in fact each row would be four...and we can sing a little song about fours as we figure out how many fours it would take if the wall was made of the small blocks, what if we used the halves? Then we'd be counting by twos... For more advanced students (and teachers) we could do a quick lesson on bases...the most important part is to PLAY. These kinds of lessons have to be quick and easy and as natural as possible so the kids learn without knowing they are learning...we're just playing using our imagination and asking silly questions as we build stuff. It's not a formal lesson per se.
preschool math activity AND they learn things that are not so obvious to the casual observer...as Doug Clements explains above.
all 45 addends...this is a math activity that will be repeated MANY times before the recall is instant and mastery is achieved. Some of the slower teachers will drill these addends over and over again on a daily basis until the students have them down and have acquired a distaste for math in the process. The more enlightened teachers will make this one of a myriad of math activities that keep preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders engaged for hours over many days and weeks. Kids never get tired of playing.
Here is another fast easy lesson on finding the area of a rectangle where the students tell you the formula not the other way around. They will forget this in a few weeks, and you can teach it again as a fresh lesson. Seriously. After a a few times they will remember it...internalize it, understand it and not because they looked at these symbols and memorized a formula:
1/2bh = A
The lesson with the blocks above is SO much more powerful than even this lesson:
However, I posted that video several places and the comments about it were how powerful and easy a drawing can be to illustrate the simple concept. I find that presentation creates HUGE "AH-HA" moments in students and teachers alike. Picture worth a thousand words as they say. Kinesthetic experience with blocks worth exponentially more than that....
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