Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Oh the things you could do with just a bucketful of geometric shapes!

I have a confession. I used to ace my elementary mathematics as well as additional mathematics, and I can be considered a natural at math. Since becoming a mother, I find myself unconsciously shopping for all things math-related for my children, even though I am a strong advocate of learning through play. Of course, learning math does not necessarily mean simply knowing the numbers. When working with preschoolers at a young and tender age, understanding math is all about rote counting, and one to one correspondence. There are plenty of ways to actually teach these, and I prefer to teach it with play.

We have plenty of math manipulatives at home, but one of my favorites is the bucketful of geometric shapes. With just one bucket of colorful shapes, there's just so much that can be done. Like sorting, patterning, counting the sides of the shapes apart from identifying the shapes and colors they come in, or even making pictures with these geometric shapes. The use of it is endless, especially when you leave it to the creativity of a child.

Adult-initiated activity: One to one correspondence
We started off with an adult-initiated activity. I laid out the numbers 1-5 and let him identify the numbers and colors they were in. And then, I left it all up to him to choose the shapes to correspond to the numbers that were laid out. I was secretly rooting for him to match not just the correct amount but the same color of the shape to the number. And like mother and son thinking alike, he did just that.

Child-initiated activity: Free Expression
I always believe that learning must consist of a good balance of both adult and child-led activities to have a consistent and happy process. Children already have a vivid imagination, and this is truly where we can take their lead. By observing them and seeing where their interest lie and where they're spending most of their time and energy, you will be able to see what they are trying to teach themselves. After he had achieved my goal of learning to count and correspond, I left it all up to him the kind of things he wished to do with the bucketful of geometric shapes. I could see he was raring to go with a million and one ideas and I too, was excited to see the kind of creativity he would unleash. With nothing else but just different shapes, he created a "fox" and a "dog" and pointed out the different parts of them that he made with the shapes. I was captivated with the kind of language that was spurting out with each description of his work. I was happy that we were achieving language and interaction through what started as a math activity. That is like killing two birds with one stone!

Oh the things you could do with just a bucket full of geometric shapes!

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