April 16-20, 2001
Here's what we've been doing this week:
At the beginning of the school year, I introduced the children to the red rods, a Montessori activity in which ten rods, which vary in length from 10 centimeters to 1 meter, are put in order from shortest to longest. They have been doing this activity throughout the year during individual work time. This week we used the same rods to make a pattern. The children brought the rods to the rug, one at a time, holding the rods from each end so that no one was hurt by a swinging rod. After all of the rods were placed on the rug, I asked someone to find the longest rod and place it at the end of the rug. I asked another person to place the next rod next to the first rod so that they made a corner. We continued to do this until all of the rods were on the rug and they formed a maze. I told them that one person at a time could come up and try to walk through the maze without touching any of the rods. So that the rug would stay clean (and to make the game more fun) those participating needed to take off their shoes. It was very hard to walk through without ever touching, but a few of the children were able to do it. When we were finished, we put the rods away, starting with the longest. After each rod was taken away, we noticed that the pattern that we had made still produced a maze until we only had the shortest rod left. Later during individual work time, many children were walking in the maze and having lots of fun.
Since November we have been doing lots of addition in class, usually using some kind of object to help with the counting. Every time the children do the adding with different objects, it helps their understanding of the concept and they realize that we can add coins, buttons, blocks, spoons, or anything. This week we did an activity on the circle in which every child actively participated. I gave each child a set of ten unifix cubes of one color and ten of a different color. I asked them to take 4 cubes of one color and 3 cubes of the other color and put them together. If they did not understand how to do it, they could look at what their neighbors were doing. After everyone had a chance to put the blocks together and count them, each child told me what their answer was. We then counted the blocks together as a group to see what the actual answer was. Then I asked them to arrange the cubes like they were before: ten of one color and ten of the other color. We continued with other problems, such as 6+5 and 8+6. Most children participated, although a few children listened while they played with their blocks. Finally, I asked them to arrange the cubes like they were in the beginning and then return them to the box.
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