- Topic: Counting: Book: Eggs and Legs: Counting by Twos by Michael Dahl and Todd Ouren.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.