Children with disabilities have been shown to have low rates of engagement during group activities and higher rates during routines (i.e., meal time) and free play (Kemp, Kishida, Carter, & Sweller, 2013). When planning instruction, it is important to find balance between teacher-directed and child- directed activities.
Engagement is a necessary prerequisite for learning and the quality of the engagement has been shown to vary among different classroom activities. Children with disabilities have been shown to have low rates of engagement during group activities and higher rates during routines (i.e., meal time) and free play (Kemp, Kishida, Carter, & Sweller, 2013). When planning instruction, it is important to find balance between teacher-directed and child- directed activities. Children, especially those with disabilities, have the potential to gain more from instruction provided during these periods of active engagement. Exploration of early math concepts is just one example of instruction best embedded into engaging, play-based activities. The most powerful mathematics instruction for preschoolers is usually not acquired through a seated lesson, but is brought forth by the teacher from the child’s self-directed, intrinsically motivated activity. Math instruction in preschool involves inviting children to experience math concepts as they play, describe, and think about their world (Clements, 2001).
Promote exploration of early math concepts by making simple additions to your daily routine and learning centers.
Include books in the reading center that support math concepts like Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider (time), Leo Lionni’s Little Blue and Little Yellow (patterns), and Helen Oxenbury’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (positional words).
Ask children to transition between activities by walking at different rates of speed (slow, medium, or fast). Have children hunt for treasures on the playground (rocks, pine cones, leaves, etc.) and sort them in the sensory table by attribute (color, size, texture). Encourage children to explain why certain items would not fit into the categories they created. When playing store during dramatic play, encourage children to add price stickers and practice writing numbers or adding up a final bill. Plan a weekly cooking activity to provide experiences with measurement, weight, counting, and estimating. Use songs and finger plays for teaching computation. One went away, how many are left?
Graph and analyze data throughout the day, from how many children are at home/school, to lunch choices, to favorite movies. Which group has the most/least? Provide opportunities to practice ordinal position words by asking children to line up in the first position, second, third, and so on. Children can also line up in patterns, like boy/girl and tall/short.
Available in the T-TAC ODU Library
– Engagement of Every Child in the Preschool Classroom by Robin McWilliam and Amy Casey
– The Intentional Teacher: Choosing the Best Strategies for Young Children’s Learning by Ann Epstein
Learning Opportunity in March!
Ron Mohl from Lakeshore Learning, who was a huge hit at the most recent Creating Connections to Shining Stars conference, will be back on March 19, 2014! Come to learn fun and engaging ways for making math instruction part of your daily routine. Ron will also present ideas for exciting, hands-on science instruction. (broken link)(broken link)
Clements, D. H. (2001). Mathematics in preschool. Teaching Children Mathematics, 7(5), 270-275.
Kemp, C., Kidshida, Y., Carter, M., & Sweller, N. (2013). The effect of activity type on the engagement and interaction of young children with disabilities in inclusive childcare settings. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28, 134-143.