Ways to Help Children Communicate and Share Mathematical Ideas
As we provide children with rich experiences and environments to explore and observe, we also need to provide opportunities for them to communicate and share their discoveries with others. As children explain their observations and the ways they capture these observations, they are making their own thinking more clear and visible to themselves. There are many ways to accomplish the important task of sharing.
Group Sharing and Discussion Format
As children come together as a group during the course of the day, they should be encouraged to express the discoveries and observations they have made. The figure below lists some sample prompts that teachers can use to assist students with collecting their thoughts and expressing their ideas.
Questions that encourage children to organize and express comparisons and measurements.
What did you see? What happened first? Tell us what you think about... How do you know? What do you think will happen next? How tall is your plant? How did your shadow change? How much does your rock weigh?
As children become more skilled at writing their thoughts, they can keep daily journals of their observations. They can keep track of the changes that they are observing and the phenomena that are occurring in their world. For example, if they are exploring their shadows, they may journal about how their shadow changes length at different times during the day. When children make such deliberate attempts at making their observations and their thinking visible, like scientists, they are able to make predictions and develop conceptual schemes about scientific phenomena.
Making a Book
As children have opportunities to observe, explore, and experiment with many phenomena of change and growth, they will be able to build theories about their world. As these theories become evident, a book of “Amazing Discoveries” can be created. For example, when children explore and examine what happens to shadows at different times of the day, they can begin to make claims about the position of the sun in the sky as it relates to the length of a shadow. Class statements can be made such as “When the Sun is high in the sky above, our shadows are shorter than they are late in the evening when the Sun is low.” This concept is certainly an “Amazing Discovery.”
These experiences are valuable for young children because they are the basis for much more complex and abstract concepts. The concrete experiences such as comparing the length of their shadows to the position of the Sun will, over time, expand to an understanding of the very abstract concepts related to the movements of the Earth and sun.
With each Concept Exploration, children’s theories and discoveries should be celebrated and recorded. At the end of the year, you will have constructed a wonderful book that captures the rich problem-solving experiences of the children across many topics of interest. They will have, in fact, written their own textbook, chapter by chapter, of each Concept Exploration.
© ______ 2009, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
Washington Virtual Academies
Tuition-free online school for Washington students.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- Child Development Theories
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Social Cognitive Theory
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- Problems With Standardized Testing
- The Homework Debate