Saturday, November 12, 2011
November Number Corner!
I have had a lot of requests for information about our calendar program Number Corner. This is my second year of using Number Corner and this year one of the things I wanted to do was create our own calendar pieces instead of the calendar pieces the program provides. First, I absolutely love the calendar pieces the program provides but after we created our own set the first time, I will admit I was hooked. I will be the first person to say that creating your own calendar pieces is a little time consuming and it does require planning but I have to say what I love the most is the problem solving this activity has provided has been very beneficial to my students. As I plan each month I follow the advice section from the Bridges Blog. This is also where you can find additional calendar printables and support.
This month we started with reading the book Setting the Turkeys Free by W. Nikola-Lisa. We first determined our background color for our calendar pieces and at that time we decided we would create and AB pattern. We then decided we wanted to recreate the turkey prints for our calendar pieces. We work on our upcoming calendar early because this is a multiple step process when you build your own calendar patterns. We have learned that we have to start a few weeks before the new month. Through many discussions we decided that our turkey hand prints would have a pattern as well. In the picture you can see that each turkey feather has a color that follows a pattern. After each step of the process, we put the calendar pieces into the calendar and discuss our progress.
We want to know if we followed the AB background pattern? Do we have enough pieces? Even though this seems like an additional step, this has proven to be the most beneficial for my students because we are actually testing out our plan and checking to see if we were correct in our original planning. We usually discover that we need to make adjustments and this is where some true problem solving begins. We planned our AB background pattern and then printed our patterned hand prints. When we were setting up the calendar we noticed that we did not have enough pieces in the right color combination even though we counted it out. This was the perfect time to talk about the strategy of double checking. We had to discuss what we needed to do to fix our pattern. We discovered we needed more yellow pieces and that we had too many of the orange. When we made additional calendar pieces and put up the calendar pieces we liked how it looked but we wanted to add more to our turkeys because the children thought they did not look enough like the turkeys from the book. We added some extra jazz to our turkeys.
We added sequins and feathers to make our turkeys come alive! Once we set this into our calendar we liked the way it looked. We now had a background pattern, a hand print pattern and it was time to actually fix the pattern to reflect the positional pattern that the original butterfly calendar markers were in. I have found that it is very important to always have the calendar pieces from Number Corner in the calendar as you build your own because it helps when you need to double check! This really helps when your pattern pieces are in the hands of twenty little children because nobody can visualize a pattern that is scattered into forty little hands! Like I said, we ALL participate and build and rebuild the calendar together which also provides us multiple opportunities for counting and sequencing numbers.
After we placed all of the pieces into the calendar we used the butterfly pattern strip (that you can download from the Math Learning Center) to discuss our turkey our turkey positions. After we looked at our positional pattern the children noticed that it was just like the vision test they had to take with our school nurse and they used hand signals to tell me which position each piece was in. I thought this was a brilliant observation on their part and just ran like crazy with it. We use those hand signals each day and it reminds me of Total Physical Response an ELL strategy which I absolutely LOVE! As the children became familiar with the hand signals we began to describe the signals with the positional vocabulary words of up, to the right, down and to the left.
This is how our calendar looked after our last problem solving session. All we had to do to finish up was add the numbers. I was responsible for that this time but next month the children will add the numbers to each piece because they asked me if they could and I had never really thought about that, so I am just going to let them guide me with their suggestions! Once we get to this point, we turn all of the pieces over and predict what will come next each day. And one of my friends gave me the best idea of all! If you are talking about the core or repeating part of the pattern, you can have the children frame the core by inserting Popsicle sticks! We all love this idea because we get a chance to see several repeating parts in each month.
Once we finished working on our November calendar pieces it was already time to start thinking of December... I thought it would be fun to add to my routine just a little bit more because I must be crazy. I am thinking that it would be interesting to vote on the calendar art and it would be fun to have musical instruments to use when we are discussing and copying our pattern. You will have to check back to see the new additions! I hope this answers all of your questions but if it doesn't just email me and let's talk Number Corner in Kindergarten!