A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
For one year, 365 days, this blog will address the Common Core Standards from the perspective of creating an alternate, ambient learning environment for math. Ambient is defined as “existing or present on all sides, an all-encompassing atmosphere.” And ambient music is defined as: “Quiet and relaxing with melodies that repeat many times.”
Why ambient? A math teaching style that’s whole and all encompassing, with themes that repeat many times through the years, is most likely to be effective and successful. Today’s blog will focus on Kindergarten Standards 5 and 6, in Geometry. Note that the Common Core Standards will appear in blue, followed by an ambient translation.
Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes.
5. Model and draw shapes, building them from components (e.g., sticks and clay balls).
6. Compose simple shapes to form larger shapes. For example, “Can you join these two triangles with full sides touching to make a rectangle?”
Sticks and clay balls. Build shapes with straight sticks, perhaps making a mobile with three or four different shapes. Take four sticks of even length, overlap the ends and lash them with colorful yarn to create a square. Do the same with 3 sticks for the triangle. A willow wand bent round will make the circle.
Here’s something special for the hexagon. With a long piece of bulky yarn, tie three sticks of equal length together in the middle, then pull them apart so they form an “X” with a line through it. Stabilize the six points by weaving the yarn around each stick in turn, tightening it as you go. As soon as the form is stable, hand it off and have your child(ren) complete it (with help if needed). You could hang these six-sided god’s eyes in a window when finished.
Use yesterday’s cardboard tube “cookie cutters” to create shapes with homemade clay (see below for a recipe). Roll out the clay to a 1/2″ thickness and cut out several of each shape. Hardwood dowels, 1″ X 6″ make fine rolling pins for little hands. When dry, the shapes can be put together to form other shapes. The clay can also be used to create cones, cylinders, and cubes that can be transformed with added simple details into familiar animals or objects.
For the drawings portion, you may want to do some potato printmaking. Cut two very large potatoes in half the short way. Make a 1/2″ thick stamp on the open end for each: circle, square, triangle, hexagon. Have the child(ren) make prints using poster paint or watercolor.