Micheltello, the Fifth Ninja Turtle

The Activities

  1. Topic: Story Problems: Book: How High Can a Dinosaur Count? …and Other Math Mysteries by Valorie Fisher.
  2. Topics: Codes, Combinations, Story Problems: We created a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “adventure” with three stages.  All materials for this activity can be found here.  The story is that Shredder has discovered some ancient machines that, when activated, will cover the world in slime (I printed out some pictures of the characters for those less familiar with ninja turtles).  The turtles obviously want to stop him, and they find Beebop and Rocksteady, defeat them, and take from them a coded message from Shredder.  This was a number-letter substitution code, but unlike in the past, I did not give them the key.
    Deciphered message

    Deciphered message

    Then I said that Splinter remembered a legend of an ancient fifth ninja turtle, but he couldn’t quite remember his name.  However, he did remember that the name was a combination of two of the first four turtles’ names (e.g., Raphangelo).  If they can list out all the possible names, he will remember.

    IMG_1182 IMG_1183

    Now that they know the fifth turtle’s name (Micheltello), April O’Niel goes on TV and says that Micheltello should come help them.  He shows up, and says that that he knows where the slime machines are.  The turtles go to the slime machines, but each one has a story problem that the kids must solve in order to turn it off (see link to PowerPoint above for the story problems).  Once they solve the problems, the world is saved and the mayor gives them each a prize!

  3. Topic: Origami: We made the pinwheel from Easy Origami by John Montroll.

How Did It Go?

All six kids attended.  This circle went well, all the kids were engaged the whole time — having a theme definitely helps.

How High Can a Dinosaur Count?

This book has a bunch of story problems, mostly about addition but a few others, including a couple about money.  Most weren’t too hard for them, but they usually couldn’t solve them instantly.  I had the kids raise hands to answer, all the kids gave at least one answer.  The hardest one was to count up how much money two dimes, two nickels, and three pennies was.

Ninja Turtle Adventure

When I first announced the topic, one of the girls said “I’m not interested in boy things.”  Fortunately, once we started working on the problems, she jumped right in :).

The first breakthrough for the code was that one kid said that one of the three letter words could be “the”.  I pointed out there were several three letter words.  They noticed that two of the four three letter words were the same, and tried filling in “the” for that one (which was correct).  They made a bit more progress after this but then got stuck.  One kid kept asking “What are the two little dashes at the bottom?”  I just said “Part of the message.”  Eventually, that kid said “Maybe this says Shredder!”  They didn’t quite get the concept of making sure the pattern of the word worked (they certainly didn’t notice that certain words had double letters until after they filled them in).  Once they got Shredder and filled in the matching letters elsewhere, they guessed “turtle” and “ninja”, and got most of the rest.  They ended up having the whole message decoded except for “_i_th”.  One kid suggested “ninth”, but n was already used.  I suggested they try similar things, and they got “fifth” after a bit.  I had the kids take turns being the writers, since they all wanted to fill in the letters (4 kids writing at the same time is pretty tricky).

They were slower than I expected at generating names.  In similar activities in the past, there’s usually been a flood of suggestions, but I guess the concept of combining a prefix and suffix was trickier.  However, almost immediately, one of the kids suggested drawing a line between the prefix and suffix whenever they thought of a new name.  This was obviously extremely helpful for searching, although they still weren’t that good at that.  After a while, a different kid noticed there were a different number of lines coming from various suffixes, and found things to even it out.  However, they still didn’t realize there needed to be three coming from each one; after a while one of the kids suggested there should be four lines, but I pointed out that you wouldn’t have one for the actual real names, so only three.  All the kids came up with at least one name and wrote it on the chart.  This was the first time in a combinatorics activity that I think they had some concept of having found the all possibilities.

The story problems were somewhat difficult, in particular, understanding what the problem was asking was sometimes tricky.  Their reading is pretty good, but long complicated questions are still difficult.  I had to help almost all the kids understand their questions.  About half the kids finished their own questions fairly quickly, and then I had those kids help the others with their problems.  There some interesting incorrect answers.  For the problem “There are 17 pizzas with 10 slices each, Michelangelo eats one slice from each pizza, how many are left?” the initial answer was 7 (17 – 10).  When another kid came to help, they realized it should be 9 * 17.  I suggested that they might take the initial pieces (170) and subtract the eaten pieces (17), which they could do.  Another interesting problem was “Leo has 2 swords, Raph has 2 sais, Dona has 1 bo, and Michel has 2 nunchuks.  Also, each turtle has 3 ninja stars.  How many total weapons?”  The initial answer was 10, adding all the numbers in the problem.  So, there’s clearly room to improve in translating story problems into math expressions.


The pinwheel wasn’t too bad for them, we can probably do something harder.  But the final step where you pull out the points was tricky for some of them.  One of the kids was eager to tell me that she could make an origami dragon, but we didn’t have time for a demonstration.


Two Dice that Add up to Thirteen

The Activities

1. Topic: Counting. Book: From the Garden: A Counting Book About Growing Food, by Dahl.

2. Topic: Indirect Counting. I told the kids a story about Princes and Princesses at a party. The Princes were blue poker chips, and the Princesses were orange poker chips. The King and Queen want to know whether there are more princes or princesses. However, the kids won’t stop moving around so it is hard to dance. The queen calls for a dance, and each prince and princess pair up.  There is one prince left over.  Which are there more of?

Next the cook hands out plates for each kid, blue plates for the princes, and orange plates for the princesses. But then the cook realizes that dessert is not ready yet, and sends the princes and princesses out to play.  But how can the cook know how many ice creams (for the princes), and pies (for the princesses) to make?


A Prince and Princess Ready to Eat


3. Topic: Probability, Charts, Counting. Give the kids 2 dice, and have them roll the dice, add the total, and fill out a probability chart to see which number is rolled 5 times first.


4. Topic: Conservation of Quantity. Show the kids a stack of 12 Keva blocks.  Ask them how many are there.  Now rearrange the blocks in a different shape, and ask them how many there are now. Keep doing this until the kids protest that the number of blocks is always the same.


A tricky structure to count.


5. Topic: Sequences. Have the kids arrange story sequence cards in order, and then read the stories.

How did it go?

Counting in the Garden

This is a simple book that just shows different quantities of vegetables, from 1 to 12. The kids enjoyed taking turns counting the vegetables.

Princes and Princesses at a Party

The kids wanted to count the # of princes and princesses.  As soon as they’d start, I’d move the princes and princesses (poker chips) around, and say they were playing.  The math kids were very willing to keep counting even though there was no way to tell which chips they had already counted.  One kid counted 12 princesses, one counted 17 before I stopped him.

After the prince and princesses lined up to dance, all the kids quickly realized that there were more princes since one was left over.  After the princess and princesses left to go outside, one kid immediately said the cook could count the plates.  The kids enjoyed counting each color of plate.

Probability Race

I showed the kids the dice, and how to fill out the chart. Sum up the two dice, and then fill in the proper box.  We did part of a race as a large group, and then I broke them into a groups 3 and 2.  The kids all enjoyed throwing the dice (sometimes too hard), and counting the dots. They quickly caught on to how to use the chart, though several kids colored in the bottom square where the number was written, instead of starting on the square above.

The funniest interaction was when Kid A rolled two 6s and counted the dots to get 13.  He filled in the ’13’ box on the chart.  Later, Kid B (A’s partner), rolled two 6s, and immediately said “That’s 13!”.  I suggested he should check, and he figured out it was twelve.

We finished one race this time before the kids got too antsy. 7 won.  We’ll do this again in the future, and collect a group of charts to see if the kids notice any patterns.

Conservation of Quantity

I brought out a stack of 12 Keva blocks. First I asked a the kids to count the stack. Kid A got 11, but Kid B and Kid C both got 12, so we decided it must be 12.  Then I took the stack of blocks are rearranged them into a sun shape.  I asked “NOW how many are there?”  Kid D immediately said that there would still be 12, because I didn’t take any away.  However, the other kids were very happy to count them, and got 12.

Next I arranged the blocks into a stacked tower.  Kid D again said there were still 12, but the other kids wanted to check.  The blocks were much harder to count in this configuration.  Kid A got 8, and Kid B got 13.  Kid B started to explain loudly that Kid A must be wrong because he hadn’t counted all the blocks.  We check the number by all counting together while taking apart the structure, and we got 12.

Next I put all the blocks in a line.  The kids counted and saw there were 12. Then I showed them that I was taking 1 away.  Kid B and Kid D shouted that there were 11 left now, but some of the other kids counted to be sure.  I took away another 1, and they all guessed 10 now.  Then I took away 2, and that stumped them. Eventually Kid B guessed there would be 6 left, but we counted and got 8.  I kept taking away more blocks…once we got down to 4, the kids didn’t need to count anymore.  When we got to 0, the kids all laughed.  I asked Kid A to count the 0 blocks and he paused and then laughed.

Story Sequences

We have a box of story cards with 4 cards in each story. The stories are about things like carving a pumpkin or scooping ice cream.  The kids each got 2 turns to make a story, and then I read the story to each of them.  4 of the kids got their stories right every time (though it took some thinking for some of them).  The 5th kid had a bit more trouble, and both times mixed up two of the cards.  Kid D immediately saw the problem both times, and helped correct the stories.

At this point the kids were getting restless and were ready to play, so we ended circle 10 minutes early.




Kakuros are Surprisingly Hard!

I led the big kids’ circle this week. 5 kids attended.

The Activities

1. Topic: Primes: Book: The Number Devil, by Enzenberger.

2. Topic: Measurement: Measuring the kids bodies with ribbons. We measured the kids’ ears, wrists, hands, feet and height with ribbons, and glued the ribbons onto their charts. We discussed measurement error and compared different kids’ measurements.


My daughter’s measurement chart.


3. Topic: Patterns, Fibonacci Numbers, Graphing: I showed the kids the start of the Fibonacci pattern: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and asked them to figure out what came next. Then we used graph paper to draw the Fibonacci numbers as squares of each size.


One of the kids’ Fibonacci drawing


4. Topic: Logic Puzzles, Kakuro: I gave the kids a sheet of Kakuro puzzles and we worked together to solve them.  Kakuro is similar to Sudoku.  You fill in the boxes with numbers that sum to a given value (like 6), and you can’t use the same number more than one in a single column or row.

How did it go?

Book: The Number Devil.

This week we read about large prime numbers, and the fact that between any number and it’s double is at least one prime.  This was really over the kids’ heads and they got confused and distracted. I think it may be time to take a break from this book and come back in a few months or so.

Body Measurement

Two parents and I used ribbons to measure the various body parts of the kids.  This went fine except for general loudness and high-spirits from the kids (which is no problem).  We noticed that several kids ears and wrists seem to have shrunk.  The kids said they did not think they had really shrunk. They mentioned that perhaps the parent that was doing the measuring had done it differently this time.  We discussed the idea of measurement error, and I said maybe this meant they hadn’t grown very much since the last time.

While their hands, wrists and feet were not much bigger, all the kids had grown noticeably since last July. Their growths varied from 2cm to 4 cm.

Fibonacci Numbers

I wrote the first few Fibonacci numbers on a sheet of paper: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and asked the kids what should come next. First they suggested it should start back over at 1, but I said it was not a repeating pattern.  Then they guessed various numbers like 9, 10, etc with no particular reason.  Someone suggested maybe it was counting by 3, but another kid pointed out that the gap between the numbers was not always the same.

Above the original pattern, I helped the kids write the gap between numbers. We saw the first gap was 1 then 1 then 2 then 3 then 5.  The kids then caught on that the gap followed the same pattern.  We extended the pattern: 13, 21, 34, 55.  I expected these sums to be easy for the kids at this point, but all of them had some trouble with these.  Looks like it would be good to bring back the Base 10 blocks and practice some more.

After this, I got out some graph paper, and we drew a graphical version of the Fibonacci numbers. We drew a 1×1 sqaure, 1×1, 2×2, 3×3, in a spiralling pattern.  The kids did pretty well drawing the squares and figuring out where the next one should go. However, I wasn’t paying enough attention and we ended up not making the spiral.  Therefore I cancelled the second half of the activity, which was to use compasses to draw the spiral on top of the squares, and moved on.  A few kids complained because they saw the compass kits but we didn’t use them.

Kakuro Puzzles

I handed out a sheet of Kakuro puzzles that focused on adding numbers up to 10.  I had never done a Kakuro, but expected to be able to quickly learn it, since these were aimed at kids.  Actually it was much harder than I expected to come up with strategies.  I sat with a few of the kids and we wrote down some possibilities: this row adds to 3, so it can be 1,2 or 2,1.  Some of the kids followed along with me, some tried out their own guesses, and some were just confused.

After I had figured out 3 of the numbers in the puzzle (which had ~10 numbers), I filled them in in all the kids sheets. At that point one kid finished solving the puzzle, and that encouraged several others to have another try.  Finally they all ended up with the right answer.

We moved on and did one more puzzle. Some of the kids understood the puzzle by the end, but a couple others didn’t quite get the idea.  I think I’d be able to teach it better next time.

Paying Attention

2 or 3 of the kids were pretty rowdy this time, not listening to me, or not giving back the materials when it was time to move on.  I stopped circle in the middle and discussed this with the kids. They agreed that the purpose of circle is to learn Math, and we should not distract other kids. They suggested that kids who were being disruptive should get a warning, and then sit out of circle for a few minutes to calm down.  I’m planning to implement this next circle.

Feeling Colors

The Activities

  1. Topic: Counting:  Book: Eggs and Legs: Counting by Twos by Michael Dahl and Todd Ouren.
  2. Topic: Counting:  First we counted to 30 taking turns saying numbers, then tried counting by twos and threes.  We explained this as the “secret number game”, where (for counting by two) you said one number to yourself, and then the next number out loud.
  3. Topic: Charts:  I gave each kid about 15 random colored goldfish, and a goldfish graph to count them on.  They first put the goldfish on the chart, and then colored each box with a goldfish.  Finally, they ate the goldfish and I asked them some questions about who had had the most green ones, etc.  This activity was suggested by one of the parents of our first circle who is now leading a circle for their younger daughter.IMG_1179
  4. Topic: Counting:  Conservation of quantity a la Piaget.  I lined up two parallel lines of 12 colored glass beads, and asked them which had more.  Then I spread out one of them and asked again; then removed some stones from the longer one so they were the same length, asked again, etc.
  5. Topic: Shapes:  I put part of our attribute blocks set into a cloth bag, making sure to have one of each combination of size/shape/thickness.  Then, I gave the bag to a kid and asked them to, say, find a triangle, or find a thick circle, etc., just by touch.  I also asked them to find a red shape to see what they would do.
  6. Topic: Story Sequences: I introduced them to one of the sets of story sequence cards, and I had them put a couple of sets in order as a group.

How Did It Go?

All five kids were here.  They started to get restless 35-40 minutes in, so we only went for 45 minutes.

Eggs and Legs

The kids took turns counting the eggs and/or legs on each page.  We did a lot of counting activities in this circle; there was lots of skipping and double counting, so the results were frequently off by one or two.

Counting by Twos

Not surprisingly, there was a range of counting ability in the group.  All could count to ten easily, but some started to get shaky in the teens, and most started to have trouble after twenty.  One kid could count to at least a thousand.  Counting by twos was quite a bit harder, both the idea of counting by twos and because it got to bigger numbers faster.  Counting by threes was even harder.

Goldfish Charts

This was easier for them than I expected.  They all quickly figured how to arrange their goldfish and how to color underneath each goldfish.  There was a variety of speeds of coloring based on how carefully they colored.  One kid colored the highest box for each color first and then filled in the ones below it, the others all went upwards from 1.  They were pretty good at answering questions about the charts after they had devoured the goldfish.

Conservation of Quantity

This one was very interesting.  I think all the kids initially said “blue” when I spread out the blue stones, but very soon after that one of the kids decided to count each side, and from then on, two of the kids always got it right because they were thinking about counting the stones.  Two of the other kids said there were more blue for quite a while, until the number of blue stones got really low.  The final kid switched back and forth.  So our group is right in the critical period for conservation of quantity.

Shapes in a Bag

They didn’t really try to cheat, which was not true when we did this with our daughter’s circle.  It may be because we had a better bag (I think we used a pillow case last time).  The were pretty good at this, but they were starting to get restless when it wasn’t their turn (we had two bags, but that’s still 3 unoccupied kids at any given time).  I also asked them to, say, find a red shape, but they simply pulled something out, and tried again if it was wrong.  They happened to be lucky a good fraction of the time, so they didn’t really realize they were just guessing.  I asked how they were finding things by color but they didn’t have an answer.

Story Sequences

We only did a couple.  They were able to solve a couple pretty quickly.  They had trouble on one which had a picture of snow falling, then someone shoveling the driveway, then the right sidewalk, then the left one — they didn’t realize the snow should be disappearing.

A Circle Circle

Happy 2015! This was our daughter’s first circle of the year, and our son’s first circle ever.  We now do 2 circles each week, at the same time.  We alternate leading each circle.  To keep the kids focused, we moved the big kids circle upstairs. Oddly enough, the only room with enough space is our master bathroom.  We bought a folding picnic table and benches, and it worked out really well, despite being slightly strange.


The Bathroom Picnic Table

The Activities

1. Topics: Numbers, Primes: Book:  The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger.  We read most of chapter three.

2. Topic: Venn Diagrams:  First I made a Venn diagram with necklaces as the objects, some with emeralds, some with rubies, some with both, some with neither.  I asked them questions such as “How many necklaces do not have rubies?”  Next, I had them draw an abstract version with one number per region (i.e., a region is labeled “4” if it contains 4 necklaces).  Finally, I gave them an abstract diagram for a new problem: superheroes who could fly, had super strength, both, or neither.  I gave each kid a sheet with a bunch of small Venn diagrams, and then when I asked a question, they had to fill in the appropriate regions which contribute to that answer.  For example, “How many heroes are super strong?” means filling in the two regions inside the “Strong” circle.  Materials available here.


3. Topics: Geometry, Geometrical Drawing, Angles:  We supplied one geometry kit per kid, which contains a small ruler, 90-45-45 triangle, 90-60-30 triangle, protractor, and compass.  I explained that you could use a ruler for measuring distances; drawing lines of a certain length; and connected two points.  Each kid made a constellation by connecting random points.  Next, we traced the 90-45-45 triangle and measured the angles using the protractor.  Finally, we practiced drawing circles with the compass.

How Did It Go?

We had four kids this week.

The Number Devil

This chapter was a bit harder than the previous ones, because it talked about division and only one of the kids was able to readily do simple divisions (she knew 17 / 2 = 8 ½).  There was an interesting discussion of why you can’t divide by 0, but it was kind of tricky — I think the kids might have been able to understand it if we spent a whole activity on it, but they didn’t get it in passing.  Then there was the prime number sieve.  One of the kids pointed out you could cross out all the evens for 2.  I think a couple of the kids were a bit bored during the division part but they were all paying attention for the sieve (which also had some nice charts).  Everyone wanted to finish the chapter but we needed to move on.

Venn Diagrams

After I showed them the necklaces picture, I asked what kind of chart it was, no one remembered, but when I said “Venn diagram” someone said “Oh yeah”.  I asked them a bunch of questions such as “How many necklaces have emeralds?”  “How many have emeralds or rubies?”  They did quite well with only a couple issues.  They even were able to do “How many have either both rubies or emeralds or neither?”  The kids got the idea of coloring the small diagrams pretty quickly, and we did a bunch, going both ways (I say something, they figure out the regions; I color some regions, they tell me what it means).  One of the kids got behind because she was coloring so carefully (she colored the picture above).

Geometry Kits

Using a ruler to connect two points was new to them, so we did the constellation activity to practice.  At first, they were inclined to connect the dots freehand.  When I showed them the 90-45-45 triangle, I asked if anyone knew what a right angle was, and one kid said yes and made a big L shape with her arms (one straight up, one out to the left).  Measuring with a protractor was kind of hard to grasp, I think a couple of kids kind of got it but I’m not sure about the others.  As expected, it was fairly hard for them to draw perfect circles using the compass, but they were very impressed by my circles.  One kid really liked the compass and didn’t want to stop.

New Year, New Circle!

This week was the first ever meeting of our younger son’s Math Circle! He has been waiting for a circle for 2 years (ever since sister’s circle started), and he was so excited to have 4 other kids from his preschool over today for circle.  We’re doing his circle at the same time as sister’s circle, but we’ve moved hers upstairs.  We have 5 kids in his circle, because 6 4-year-olds is just a bit too much.

The Activities

1. Topic: Addition, Counting: Book: Let’s Add to Ten, Again and Again, by Miller. This a cute little book showing 10 kids in silly situations, demonstrating all the ways to make 10 out of  two numbers.

2. Topic: Measurement: Measure various part of the kids bodies (ears, wrist, foot, hand, height) with ribbon, and then glue the ribbons onto a sheet (available here).  Discuss who is tallest? shortest? biggest ears? smallest feet?

My son with his body measurements.

3. Topic: Logic: Given a set of 4 pictures, which one doesn’t belong, and why? For this, we used Fairytale Bingo cards we had, and made up groups of 4. There are often more than one correct answer. The important thing is to think of *why* something doesn’t fit.

A few of the fairytale sets we discussed.

4. Topic: Shapes, Attribute Blocks, Differences: Introduce the attribute blocks to the kids. Ask them to identify similarities and differences between pairs of shapes.

A few of the attribute blocks.

How did it go?

All the kids were extremely well-behaved this week, and quite focused for 4 and 5 year olds 🙂  I bet as the kids get more comfortable, circle will get wilder.  All the kids seemed pretty engaged with the activities, though I had to switch between activities much faster than with the older circle.  It’s fun to go back an re-do the early activities from our first circle.

Book: Add To Ten, Again and Again

The book had silly pictures of 10 kids, illustrating the different ways to add 2 numbers to get 10.  All the kids enjoyed counting the kids in the picture and saying together: 8 + 2 = 10!

Body Measurement

This went really quickly because I had 3 other parents helping with the measuring. The kids were all paid attention and worked hard to glue the ribbons in the right places.  They were interested in who was biggest/smallest/medium.

Odd One Out

Set #1: Princess, Pied Piper, King, Sword – The kids all enjoyed the pictures, though they weren’t familiar with the Pied Piper.  I asked if there was one that did not belong? Kid A suggested the sword, but she couldn’t explain why.  I asked the other kids for their ideas.  Eventually Kid B explained that the sword didn’t have a person in it.

Set #2: Crown, Glass Slipper, Castle, Wolf – Kid A said right away that the Crown didn’t fit because there was no person.  But then I pointed out that the Glass Slipper also had no person.  Kid C kept saying that the glass slipper was Cinderella’s, and I thought maybe that was a reasonable answer, you could say the Crown, Glass Slipper, and Castle went together because they were in the Cinderella story. But the kids were adamant that the castle and crown were not from Cinderella.  No one really came up with any ideas for what didn’t fit here, so we moved on.

Set #3: Three Blind Mice, Three Bears, Three Little Pigs, Puss in Boots – The kids first answer was that Puss in Boots didn’t fit because it was too silly because cats don’t wear boots. Then Kid A suggested Puss in Boots didn’t fit because there was no movie of it, but I pointed out that there’s no Three Blind Mice movie either.  Kid B eventually said that Puss didn’t fit because there was only one animal there…he wasn’t too firm on it, but I was able to extend it to show the kids there were 3 animals in each other picture.

Set #4: Frog Prince, Dragon, Turtle, Hare – The first 3 are green, the last is brown.  The kids all giggled because they thought the Hare was really silly looking. After awhile I asked them which color each animal was and they figured out the Hare didn’t fit.

Set #5: Fairy Godmother, Fairy, Genie, Ogre – Only my son had seen a genie before. Kid D especially thought the genie was funny because its bottom was shrivelled up looking.  The difference I was looking for was that the Ogre didn’t fly, but no one came up with much here.

Set #6: Unicorn, Pinocchio, Cinderella’s Carriage w/ Horse, Knight  – I was expecting them to notice that 3 of them have horses in them.  But instead they noticed that all except the unicorn had a person in it.

Set #7: Goose, Duckling, Mermaid, Gingerbread Man – All the kids were excited to see a mermaid that looked like Ariel, but they were all clear that it was not *really* Ariel. Someone answered that the gingerbread man didn’t fit because it was food and the others weren’t.  I said “Don’t you eat mermaids?” and they all laughed.  After awhile I asked them where each item lived, and then they noticed that the gingerbread man didn’t go in the water.

Attribute Blocks

I got out all the large blocks and told the kids they could touch them, but the blocks had to stay on the table.  They all started grabbing blocks and making stacks or pictures.  After a minute or so, I asked the kids the name of several shapes…they knew them all.

Then I had the kids pick up various types of shapes: a circle, a blue shape, a hexagon. They were all very good at this.

Next I showed them that some shapes are thick and some are thin.  At first this was a little tricky, but they quickly caught on.  I asked for combinations of 2 attributes: a thin circle.  A yellow triangle, etc.  This was all quite easy for them, but they were very engaged.

Next I showed them two shapes and asked them to tell me something the same about them, and then something different. They were all quite good at this.  I had them all pick up two shapes of their choice and go around saying a similarity and a difference…no problems at all here.

I had forgotten how quickly 4 year olds go through activities, so I ended our circle about 5 minutes early.  I had them pick up the attribute blocks, giving each kid one type of shape to pick up: circles, triangles, rectangles, blue shapes, red shapes. They all enjoyed this. I didn’t notice any conflicts between two kids wanting to pick up the same shapes.  In the end there were a bunch of yellow hexagons, etc left, and I went around the circle asking each kid why they didn’t pick it up.  Then I gave one to each kid to put away, and ended circle.

After circle, all the families stayed and had a potluck dinner at our house.  This was really fun, and really loud, and really wild.  None of the kids wanted to go home, but eventually they all left, and the house felt strangely quiet 🙂