By Manuela Crowley
Director of Math Education, Zeno
After 10-plus years bringing engaging math experiences to elementary schools in the Puget Sound, Zeno is excited to roll out our first program that focuses exclusively on early learners and the adults in their lives.
MathWays for Early Learning is designed to equip pre-K families and early learning providers with activities, tools and skills to explore math in the home. This allows families to share foundational math concepts with the children in their care so kids have the opportunity to begin their formal education ready to explore and succeed.
Our experience working with students from kindergarten through fifth grade has shown that when children are not exposed to math concepts before starting kindergarten, their skills can be as much as six months behind their peers. As a result, we have identified early learning as an important extension of our reach and programming in order to fulfill our mission to create an environment where ALL kids are inspired to love math.
Over the past few months we’ve been developing activities that bring foundational math concepts into the home in a way that gets both parents and their kids excited about playing math. We’ve discovered that well-crafted, fun math materials already exist and that the delivery method of pre-K programs is the critical piece to ensuring that families can access and incorporate the activities easily.
The materials generally need to be common everyday items found in the home or in nature, and the activities need to be easily replicable. Our focus is showing families how to emphasize fun, how to keep things simple and follow the child’s lead.
We have just finished our first pilot sessions with families and childcare providers at Matt Griffin YMCA, Bailey Gatzert Elementary, Neighborhood House at Highpoint, Community Day School Association at Highland Park Elementary, and Seed of Life Learning Center. We’re developing a program of 10 activities followed by gathering feedback to refine them before we develop more in the months ahead.
Here is a sneak peak at one of our activities from MathWays for Early Learning:
Materials: Paper, pencil and small rocks, or other small objects
1. Draw 5 small circles on the paper in any format or order.
2. Place 2 rocks on 2 of the circles on the paper.
3. Say, “I have 2 rocks.”
4. Then say, “Let’s find some more rocks so that we have 5 rocks.”
5. Hunt for 3 more rocks to put on the paper so that we have 5 rocks.
6. Add the 3 rocks to the remaining circles on the paper and say “2 and 3 make 5.” (2 + 3 = 5)
7. Try it again with 5 circles in another order on the paper.
While you play, ask:
- “How do we know this is 5 rocks?”
- “How many rocks would there be if we added one more rock? Two more rocks, etc….?”