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 Circle Time segment of the Kindergarten day, with suggestions for integrating the Common Core Standards and their ambient math counterparts that appeared in this blog on Days 16, 17, and 18. The standards may be paraphrased and will appear in blue.
Identify and describe shapes (squares, circles, triangles, rectangles, hexagons, cubes, cones, cylinders, and spheres). 1. Describe objects in the environment using the names of their shapes. Use and understand the terms above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to.
Make very large outlines of a circle, square, and triangle on the floor, using the method described in the Day 9 post under Traced Circles. Use chunky chalk for this, translating the circle directions to the square and triangle. Run the shapes as the child(ren) follow you, while singing the name of each one. Examples of each shape could be strategically placed around the room, and after running each one ask the child(ren) to point to its counterpart while saying/singing its name. Circle Time is the perfect venue for the positioning exercises. Be sure to exaggerate the voices and gestures that accompany each one, for better recognition and retention.
3. Identify shapes as two-dimensional (flat) or three-dimensional (solid).
Carry the bee and snowflake verses/songs into Circle Time, with finger plays and movement. Mixing the flat and sold shapes, pass them around the circle one at a time. Have each child pass each object around from front to back and back to front then toss it up gently and say, “flat” or “solid” as it’s caught. If well enough known by then, the object’s shape can also be named as it’s caught.
4. Analyze and compare two-dimensional or three-dimensional shapes in different sizes, noticing their similarities or differences.
Draw the shapes on the floor with chunky chalk as above, and walk or run them while saying/singing their descriptive words. Before saying each shape’s name, have the child(ren) jump up with arms raised to emphasize it. For the triangle, start at the left base corner saying, “Walk-stop-walk-pointy top stop-walk-stop, a triangle!” If you’ve made the cloth three-dimensionals (and please be encouraged to do so) bring them into the circle for a wonderfully lively game of toss and catch. Begin by passing each one around while saying its name, then segue into the toss-and-catch.
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. More Kindergarten tomorrow!