Don’t Forget to Count the Feathers! (Age 5)

The Activities

  1. Topics: Graphs, Measurement: Book: The Case of the Missing Zebra Stripes, Chapter 2.
  2. Topic: Measurement: I gave each kid some twine and a pair of scissors.  Then I showed them some household objects (varying in size from ~3 inches to ~16 inches), and they had to cut pieces of twine of the right length without measuring, just by looking.
  3. Topics: Addition, Games: We played the dice game again, where you roll a twelve-sided die and 5 six-sided dice (some of them 1-3 instead of 1-6) and try to make the number on twelve-sided die using addition and subtraction.
  4. Topics: Geometry, Optimization: We had a bunch of “fences” (rectangular blocks) and small wooden animals.  The rules were you could make either rectangular or triangular pastures out of the fences; a 1×1 square could hold two animals, while an equilateral triangle of side 1 could hold one animal.  You could also omit fences between neighboring pastures (so you could make a parallelogram-shaped pasture, for example, which could hold two animals).  Also, you can’t mix animals within the same pasture.  Starting with 1 sheep, I asked what the minimum number of fences it takes to hold that number of animals is.  Then I added another sheep, asked how many fences, etc., until 12 sheep.  Then, I gave them 2 sheep, 2 horses, 2 donkeys, and 1 pig, and asked what the fewest number of fences was.

How Did It Go?

We had 4 kids this week.

Missing Zebra Stripes

This chapter was about making graphs to measure the heights of giraffes. There was also a part where you were supposed to say which was the longest lizard, or the longest bird. The lizards were curly, so you had to be careful; and I actually missed the fact that one of the birds had crazy tendril-like tail feathers, so we got the wrong answer (this came to light the following week when Corey read chapter 3).

Measuring with Twine

The first object (chapstick), the kids all did pretty well. But for the rest of the objects, most of the kids were way too high — often about 50% too long. One of the kids was WAY closer most of the time, and had the closest to the right answer every single time. It also happened that I had to go answer the door during this activity, and almost left behind the object they were supposed to be cutting twine for, but then I noticed that the kid who was doing the best started to reach for it to cheat. So they really wanted to win :).

Dice Game

There’s a very clear ordering of the kids for this activity, ranging from instantly getting it every time to having trouble adding up two dice even when given lots of time. And it’s not the same ordering as, say, the twine activity.

Building Fences

When I did this with the older kids’ circle, I didn’t introduce triangular areas, but it was a very nice addition and I’ll definitely keep it going forward. The solution to the final problem ended up involving triangles, and one of the kids came up with it without any help (in fact, it was better than the solution I had come up with). There was a lot of interesting experimentation with different arrangements of the fences. It seemed like they were starting to realize that square pens are more efficient than long skinny ones; but I don’t think they fully got the idea yet.


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