A Car is Faster than an Airplane?

The Activities

  1. Topic: Addition: Book: The Mission of Addition by B. Cleary.
  2. Topic: Addition: We used Base Ten Blocks to do some simple additions, such as 3 + 4.
  3. Topic: Numbers: We practiced making moderately large numbers, such as 17 and 51, using blue blocks rods and unit cubes.
  4. Topic: Counting: We played the “secret number game”, with one secret number — when it’s your turn, you say one number to yourself, and the next out loud (i.e., counting by twos).
  5. Topic: Probability: Each kid individually did one or two probability races (download chart here), where you roll the dice repeatedly, fill in a box for the appropriate outcome, and see which number gets to 5 first (or 6, if you color in the box containing the number, like some kids did).


    Obviously, they colored over the numbers in this one.

  6. Topic: Architecture: 13 Buildings Children Should Know by A. Roeder.
  7. Topic: Building: Each kid got 6 Keva blocks and had to build as tall a structure as possible.
    IMG_1217 IMG_1216
  8. Topic: Sorting: We had various sets of clip-arts, which you can download here.  For each set, I handed one out to each kid, and they had to sort themselves by their pictures.  The sets we did this week were:
    1. Worm, cardinal, goat, ant, spider, from fewest to most legs
    2. Bicycle, Boat, Car, Train, Airplane, from fastest to slowest

How Did It Go?

All five kids attended.  It was a good circle, there was some “when will it be over” at various points, but they stayed engaged and on-task for all but part of the last activity.

The Mission of Addition

The kids aren’t that familiar with addition — it was hard for them to explain what it was before we read the book.  But I think they were able to understand the book.

Base Ten Blocks Addition

We did about 4 problems.  For example, say we were doing 3 + 4.  I would say “make one pile of 3 and one pile of 4”.  Once they did that, “Now squish them together and count them”.  They were reasonably good at this, although they sometimes made errors both in making the initial piles, and in counting the combined result.

Base Ten Blocks Numbers

This is still pretty hard for most of them.  Understanding that a 10-rod counts as 10 and not 1 is tricky.  I had to give most of them help to be able to make 17.  Some of them started by grabbing about 5 10-rods; some started by getting one 10 rod and 10 unit cubes.  Only one kid could do it without help.  The second number we did was 52, which we all did together.

Counting by Twos

The kids were noticeably better at this than last time.  They’re getting better at counting to 30, and they’re better at the skipping part as well.

Probability Race

The kids sat scattered around on the floor of the kitchen, each with their own set of dice.  There was a wide variance in the speed that kids went; two kids finished one and a half charts; two kids finished one chart, and one kid finished half a chart.  This was partly due to how fast they counted the dice, and partly about how distracted they were by the other kids.  As I mentioned above, some of the kids colored the boxes with the numbers (so they needed to have 6 to win), others didn’t.

13 Buildings Kids Should Know

The kids only recognized the Eiffel Tower out of the 13 buildings, one of them had been there.  They were interested in some of the architectural features I pointed out, including the “circles” (columns) and “points” (spires).  One kid said the minarets on the Taj Mahal were like Rapunzel’s tower.  I said the Guggenheim looked like a layer cake and they thought that was very funny.

Tallest Tower

Lots of interesting designs.  One of the first buildings to be completed was only about an inch high (almost all of the blocks were flat on the table).  The first round, the tallest building was slightly taller than one block-length tall.  I asked if they could do better; and the second time, the tallest was two block-lengths tall.  They definitely don’t have a great grasp of which blocks are useful and which aren’t.


This activity got a little out of control, with not all the kids concentrating on the activity.  Still, they did well on the number of legs, got the right answer without many difficulties.  However, the slowest to fastest was more problematic, partly because not all the kids were paying attention, partly because they didn’t work together well, and partly because they have very little clue about relative speeds.  They all were pretty convinced a car was faster than an airplane.  The airplane ended up slower than a boat, but mainly because they weren’t paying enough attention to make sure their final order made sense.


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