Monday, October 10, 2011

Halloween Fun in Kindergarten: You Can Count On It!

Hello friends,

It is hard to believe that fall is already here upon us. The air is a little cooler, and we are starting to notice that even our school landscape seems to be changing. It is hard not to get into the spirit of “all things fall” when we see pumpkins and gourds in the grocery store, and images of spiders, colored leaves, and jack o’ lanterns aglow. All of these images remind me of being a kindergarten child myself.

Remembering my own childhood has given me great inspiration to create resources and manipulatives for my classroom. As a young child I loved counting, and I counted everything I could! I still have that natural curiosity that I held within as a child, and the desire to know just “how many” of something there really is. As part of our kindergarten curriculum, we learn to count “how many” of many different things. One of my favorite counting activities is The Counting Jar.

The Counting Jar can be so much fun around the holidays, because you can fill it with seasonal items just at the time when you might need a change. Using the contents of the jar, you can teach so many concepts, including developing strategies for counting accurately, comparing quantities, making equivalent sets, and even learning if order matters when we count. Counting jars can be found anywhere and filled with anything--that is what makes them so much fun! You can even have several counting jars around the classroom, and the children can choose which jar to use and record their findings in pictures, numbers, and words.

If you needed more counting fun, these ten frames are hard to resist! They are actually pumpkin ice trays with seasonal erasers as counters. These are perfect for small math groups. You can use these with dice or number cards to represent quantities. You could easily cut these to make five frames, or double them up for double ten frame fun. All items have recently been purchased at my local Dollar Tree--even those fun little counting eyeballs in my counting jar!

Remember those fun spider rings? There was just something magical about those spider rings when you were a child. When you are five, it is the smallest of things that can make you smile. I made counting mats to use with the spider rings in my class. There are so many cool things you can do with counting mats: make a class book, work with scented play dough, and even use stamps and markers!

As I began to wrap up my seasonal walk down my childhood memory lane, I had to remember the very best part: coming home from school and being greeted by my great-grandmother with homemade jumbles cookies with orange frosting. It is still so vivid in my mind, and just like it was yesterday, I can still see the plate of those orange frosted cookies. It's funny how food stimulates the five senses and helps us to remember! One way I've incorporated this memory into my fall studies in the kindergarten classroom is to use seasonal cookie counting mats to work on equivalent sets and the concept of "one more.' Again, we use them with stickers, tiny seasonal cookie cutters, stamps or seasonal manipulatives to vary the activities and keep it fun.

Finally, if you are looking for a little inspiration to reinforce positive behavior this time of year, then you just have to try reading How Full Is Your Bucket for Kids. When you get ready to look for a bucket to fill with your kids… make it fun! Just think of how all of the children will feel when their buckets are filled! How about working on a team goal? I am so fortunate to have my bucket filled each day in Kindergarten. I have recently been known to say that I am the teacher walking around with the invisible bucket over her head, and my bucket is not only full but…simply overflowing! 

Everybody Deserves a Childhood,
Little Miss Kindergarten

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