Daily Schedule

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Number Sense - Games You Can Play at Home

Number sense is probably the most vague of all the mathematical terms. Even teachers who have taught 
mathematics for years have a hard time defining it - but we sure know when we see it! Students do not have 
number sense when they are confused about place value (what numbers actually mean) and may not line up the 
ones place when working an addition problem, for example. Seeing patterns and recognizing the relationship between
addition and subtraction as well as multiplication and division also falls under "number sense". You need this sense 
tfigure out what operation is needed to perform a computation problem.

We will spend a good deal of time at the beginning of this year to explore number sense in my math class, starting 
with estimation, addition strategies, and place value.

Parents often ask me how they can support their child at home. While taking workbooks home and working for a 
brief time (10 minutes, perhaps, once a week) is fine, I do want to say that school is exhausting and children really
need a time to play and have fun. Please follow your child's lead in this, and make sure they have plenty of down 

There are also lots of fun games you can play that are wonderful for practice with numbers and operations. If your 
child would enjoy playing these types of games with you, all you need is a deck of cards or perhaps a set of dice. 
We play games at school during math, and I will be sharing these with you during the year. To start off, you can 
click HERE to see some really fun card games that will have your child wanting to practice math!

Friday, September 23, 2016

History, Social Studies, Hard Work, and a Delicious Treat

I often find that picture books and cookery go together in a way that brings cultural learning and history alive to young children. Using hands-on, experiential learning opportunities is something I think S-K does particularly well. This morning, both first and second grade classes listened to a book called Berry Magic. This is a pourquoi Eskimo tale of how different and delicious berries came to be. At the end of the book, there was a recipe for Akutaq, which included lard, sugar, juice, whitefish, and berries. We decided that this was not too delicious sounding, and I think children were a bit worried about afternoon snack. We then took to the buses and went to the berry farm, and came back with many quart baskets of red and golden berries.

In the afternoon, I read another book – this one is called A Fine Dessert. This beautifully illustrated book looks at four different families - a girl and her mom in England in 1710, a mother and daughter in South Carolina in 1801 (a slave family working on a plantation), a young girl and her mother in Boston in 1901, and finally a father and son in present time. After reading it, we went back page by page and talked about how life was different. I wanted to also talk to the children about the controversy this book generated, due to the “whitewashing” of the slavery pages. It was an interesting and very thoughtful discussion. We also talked about the role of women and girls throughout history.

Anyway, all four families made the same dessert - a blackberry fool. But the WAY they made it differed greatly. The way the cream was collected (or delivered or purchased, as the case may be), to the way the dessert was kept cold, to the way the cream was whipped - all were signs of developing technology and changing times. It got quicker and easier to make the dessert each time, but it was delicious EVERY time.

As I read, I pulled out each tool that was used in the book - a bundle of sticks, a wire whisk, a hand-held rotary beater, and an electric beater. Children got a chance to use each tool in order to help make this afternoon's delicious snack. The students were very happy to make raspberry fool, rather than akutaq!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Exploration - Our Own Farmers Market

The Farmers Market is one of my favorite spots in Ann Arbor. You can usually find me there on Wednesday 
mornings during the summer, and on Saturday mornings year-round. I was so happy to hear that most of the 
children in the class loved the market too, and were quite familiar with it already.

This morning, however, was a bit different than just the usual trip with Mom and Dad. Today we did a scavenger 
hunt and had to find 9 different answers. Most of the answers were found by careful observation ("Find three things 
for sale at the market that are not fruits or vegetables" "What is the biggest fruit you can find?") and others required 
an interview with a farmer ("Find one local vendor whose farm you could visit?") and still others were unique to the 
child ("What is something you've never tasted?" "If you had $10.00, what would you buy?") Each child was successful 
and filled out their entire chart. It was a lovely way to really visit the market with all of our exploring skills.

Many thanks the the parent helpers who accompanied us this morning!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Last Child in the Woods

In 2008, Richard Louv wrote a powerful book on the dangers of our increasing dependence on all things electronic, and the lack of nature in many children's lives. This book is called, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. I highly recommend this book for all parents.

The consequences can be dire when children stay inside all day - an increase of attention-deficit disorder, a rise in obesity, more depression (even in the very young), and less creativity and problem solving skills. He calls this "Nature-deficit disorder" - which, to be clear, is not a medical condition, but rather a description of what happens when children are alienated from nature.

Here at Summers-Knoll, we have a beautiful cure - our lovely wooded playground. It is a magical place, full of sticks to build forts with, small trees to climb, weeds to pull, and logs to roll over, so as to discover all those lovely little roly-polies. We give children the time and space to explore, work together, and just to daydream.