Monday, March 21, 2011

Mathematics and Preschoolers VII

The terms "more", "less", and "equal" are important mathematical vocabulary. Did you know that you are actually teaching children to analyze when you are comparing sets? Everything we teach our preschoolers is setting the stage for more complex skills. We want children to be able to look at objects/sets and see differences and similarities. We also want them to understand what the terms "more", "less" and "equal" mean.

For the most part, I slip in the question about more/less informally with any type of set comparison activities. It works well for them to predict what set has more or less or if they have the same. Then use 1:1 to compare the two sets. Putting them next to each other in a row.

         Double Sided Counters             Magnetic Two Sided Counters

These double sided counters are something on my wish list so that I can do more formal more/less activities. I've always had good intentions when I said I'd just spray paint a set of dried beans to make my own 2 sided counters but it always gets pushed down on the priority list. Lakeshore's product is a bit more expensive but I believe the counters are larger, more durable and probably more of them in a set. However, I do like the ones from also. They are magnetic so they are less likely to move when we are comparing. However, they seem smaller, thinner and perhaps a little less durable. But might work fine for supervised play.

I do introduce the signs that go along with more and less. The equal (=) sign is usually already introduced as we use it with our addition and subtraction activities. In the next picture you can see the sign I made for introducing the sign. It's a green alligator mouth. They turn it so the alligator eats the largest set. We also used our Penny Toss Mats here to help us create sets of apples (apple theme).

At they have something very similar but use a deck of cards and a whole alligator. Either way works.

I also use our teddy bear counters and scale to explore with more or less. They predict which set of bears is more/less and then they get an instant visual. We do less with counting because this set is the weighted set. I have used it with other manipulatives that are of the same weight and then we compare and count the sets.

The red and blue covers are removable so that is nice also. It was purchased through, called the Classic Balance Scale with Bears.

Other ideas for More/Less:
* Two Styrofoam bases and fake flowers. Or 2 vases and fake flowers. Children love arranging flowers. In the past we did something to incorporate mathematics into dramatic play (flower shop).
* Save and wash/dry apple seeds or pumpkin seeds and then provide a simple mat with two blackline apples or pumpkins. They can grab a handful of seeds and place one set in one apple/pumpkin and another handful in the other. Then count and add the appropriate sign (<,>,=).
* Any type of manipulatives, as mentioned in past blogs, or snack items can be used for more/less activities. Sometimes it's nice to give them a set, such as a strip of linking cubes, and ask them to make one that is more or less instead of always comparing them.
* Magnetic trains- "I have a train that 3 cars long, can you make one that has more cars?" "Choo-Choo"-drive around the track.
* In water play have two similar containers and use colored water so they can easily see the water line. When they have both containers filled at different levels, slip in the question "which one has more water?"
* The Elefun game is kind of neat for an activity like this. Catch the butterflies in the net and then make two lines to compare who got more and less that round.
* Provide a bowlful of pom poms, dice, pair of tweezers or small tongs and an icecube tray. Roll the dice and use the tweezers to put the pom poms in the top row of the icecube tray. Roll the dice again and put another set underneath. Using only two colors (may with to have two bowls) helps to keep it from getting confusing. Compare by sight and also by counting.

Happy learning!

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