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 the first three Kindergarten standards in counting and cardinality. Note that the Common Core Standards will appear in blue, followed by an ambient translation.
Counting and Cardinality K.CC
Know number names and the count sequence.
1. Count to 100 by ones and tens.
2. Count forward from a given number within the known sequence (instead of having to begin at one).
3. Write numbers from 0 to 20. Represent a number of objects with a written numeral 0-20 (with 0 representing a count of no objects).
Counting could happen in the Kindergarten in a playful way, with movement and verses or songs. After the song(s) are learned, objects could be gathered to represent each number, or a finger count could show each number as it’s sung. As stated yesterday, writing the numbers with pencil and paper would be too abstract and intellectual for this age. Remember that imaginative play is paramount now, with academics best saved for first grade.
Here’s a wonderful little song that my daughter Cassie and I loved and sang together many, many times, from age 3 on through first grade. There’s a verse for each number, and I will share the entire first verse then just the changeable parts for all the other numbers. (You can find the tune online if you don’t already know it.) I will also include suggestions for body or finger movements.
Over in the meadow in the sand and the sun, (Hands and arms held rounded above head)
Lived an old mother turtle and her little turtle one. (1 finger held up)
“Dig,” said the mother, (Cupped hands digging motion at waist level for both lines)
“I dig,” said the one, and they
Dug all day in the sand and the sun. (Hands and arms held rounded above head)
. . . where the stream runs blue, (Hands palms together waist level, making a swimming motion)
. . . fish and her little fishies two. (2 fingers held up)
. . . swim . . . we swim . . . swam all day where the stream runs blue. (Movement same as above)
. . . in a hole in a tree, (Thumb and forefinger make a circle, raised to one eye)
. . . owl and her little owlets three (3 fingers held up)
. . . whoo . . . we whoo . . . whooed all day in their hole in the tree. (Movement same as above)
. . . by the old barn door, (Hands and arms extended wide, shoulder level)
. . . rat and her little ratties four. (4 fingers held up)
. . . gnaw . . . we gnaw . . . gnawed all day on the old barn door. (Movement same as above)
. . . in a snug beehive, (Thumbs and forefingers pinched together and circling while saying “bzzzzz”)
. . . bee and her little bees five. (5 fingers held up)
. . . buzz . . . we buzz . . . buzzed all day in their snug beehive. (Movement same as above)
. . . in their nest built of sticks, (Hands cupped, wrists together, held in front of chin)
. . . crow and her little crows six. (6 fingers held up)
. . . caw . . . we caw . . . cawed all day in their nest built of sticks. (Movement same as above)
. . . where the grass grows so even, (Hands held up together, thumbs and palms in, other fingers straight up)
. . . frog and her little froggies seven. (7 fingers held up)
. . . jump . . . we jump . . . jumped all day where the grass grows so even. (Movement same as above)
. . . by the old mossy gate, (One arm swings out and in, shoulder level)
. . . lizard and her little lizards eight. (8 fingers held up)
. . . bask . . . we bask . . . basked all day by the old mossy gate. (Movement same as above)
. . . by the old scotch pine, (Hands palms together, arms stretched high above head)
. . . duck and her little duckies nine. (9 fingers held up)
. . . quack . . . we quack . . . quacked all day by the old scotch pine. (Movement same as above)
. . . in a cozy wee den, (Hands and arms crossed over heart)
. . . beaver and her little beavers ten. (10 fingers held up)
. . . beave . . . we beave . . . beaved all day on their cozy wee den. (Movement same as above)
For counting to 100 (backwards) you could sing a lively kindergarten-friendly version of the song: “99 Bottles of Milk on the Wall,” having the child(ren) repeat the lines by rote. You could adjust it for counting forward by singing, “1 bottle of milk on the wall, 1 bottle of milk, if another bottle should happen to join, 2 bottles of milk on the wall.”
You could then switch it to 10, 20, 30, etc. Remember this is all rote and repeat after you, not expecting any retention at this age. This song could be sung while lining up objects that represent the bottles of milk on the wall, up to 20. And you could start the counting sequence anywhere in the song and continue singing, again by rote only.
Choose other counting verses and songs, add movements, and keep it lively! Singing sometimes seems a lost art these days. Remember that knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of that knowledge as a worthy goal. We will continue with Kindergarten tomorrow!