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 🙂


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