Secret Numbers and Secret Shapes (Age 5)

The Activities

  1. Topic: Attributes, Estimation: Book: The Case of the Missing Zebra Stripes by Time-Life Books. This book has about 10 chapters all about different zoo-themed math activities. We did the first two chapters today.
  2. Topic: Number Line: I have a number board that shows the numbers 1 – 100. I covered up numbers on the board and asked the kids which number was missing. Then I covered up 3 or 4 numbers in a row, and asked the kids.
  3. Topic: Number Line, Number Guessing: Each kid picked a secret number between 1 and 100. The other kids took turns guessing the number. The secret kid would say whether their number was higher or lower than the number the kids had guessed.
  4. Topic: Spatial Reasoning. One kid used pattern blocks to make a shape, out of sight of the other kids. Then the kid described the block arrangement, and the other kids tried to match.

    One kid's shape.

    One kid’s shape.

How did it go?

All 5 kids attended today. We had a picnic for all the families after circle, so some of the kids were a little wild during circle. But overall it was a good circle.

Zoo Math

The first task was to estimate how many flamingos there are in a picture.  The kids initially guessed between a couple hundred and ‘ten hundred and twenty’.  I had one girl put her hand on the page, and counted that 10 flamingos fit under her hand. Then we found that it takes 15 of her hands to cover the page.  That means there could be 150 flamingos.  I then asked the kids for their final guess, and despite the estimation we had done, several kids still guess a couple thousand. The answer was 130.

The next chapter was a mystery about a new animal joining the zoo.  We got clues like: “The animal shares a trait with snakes, ostriches, and robins”.  The kids needed help to know that those animals all lay eggs. They were able to figure out the next two clues, that the animal was furry and had webbed feet.  None of them knew what animal that must be, but were able to pick out the platypus when looking a set of possible animals.

The chapter was followed by several “Odd One Out” puzzles, some of which were easy for the kids and some harder.  The kids were happy to all give their own theories. For example for the numbers “10, 11, 20, 30” one girl felt the 10 didn’t belong because it was smallest, which other kids thought 11 didn’t belong because it didn’t end in a 0.  One girl was especially good at articulating why something didn’t belong “I think the elephant doesn’t belong because the others are all birds”.

Number Lines

All the kids were pretty good at figuring out the missing number when just one number was covered, although a couple kids still got 68 and 86 confused.

Covering three numbers in a row was much harder.  A few kids would answer the first missing number, even if I was pointing at the second or third covered box.

After we did a few round of this, the kids all wanted to cover the board with the number tiles in order.  I handed out three numbered tiles at a time to the kids, who searched for the proper place to put them. Most of the kids were quick at this, though one boy still did exhaustive search to find where to put ’21’. He didn’t have a sense of whether 21 is a big or small number.  The kids were all excited to see who would be lucky enough to get the ‘100’ tile, but didn’t cry when someone else got it.

Number Guessing

Each kid got a chance to think of a number between 1 and 100. Then the other kids would try to guess it, and the secret kid would say whether their number was higher or lower than the guess.

The kids with the secret number were all pretty good at knowing whether to say higher or lower.  Only one kid got confused, and he seemed to understand after I took him aside and showed him where his secret number was on the board.

The kids loved to pick high numbers. 89, 90, 99, and 100 all got chosen.  The guessing kids were not good at binary searching for the numbers.  I helped them by pointing out that the number must be less than X, but they would still sometimes guess things higher than X.

Shape Description

Two weeks ago David had described shape arrangements, and the kids were very good at recreating the shapes.  This time the kids took turns making a secret arrangement, and describing it to the other friends.  They were actually all pretty good at describing their shapes, although sometime they weren’t precise enough so the friends would have different variations.


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