Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Building Math and Literacy into Transitions

Today during our Summer Academy course, we had a conversation with educators about the importance of slow transitions built into their days. When transitioning (e.g., from whole group to lunch) it is helpful for young children when we slowly filter them from one area to the other. This supports self regulation by providing them with space and ample time. When all children transition together it can be chaotic and overwhelming for children to practice new skills and follow expectations.

Whenever we transition, we use a slow filter as a team. To support this, we have developed short activities, games and songs. For example, we may play a guessing game with numbers. The educator could record a number (e.g., 7) on a whiteboard and then invites students to guess the number. We would then prompt the children guessing with "higher" or "lower" based on their guesses. After a child has an opportunity to guess, we would invite them to transition into the next activity (e.g., wash their hands for lunch).

When children are invited to think out loud and participate in whole group activities it provides them with an opportunity to listen to their peers strategies, to develop their understanding of mathematical language, to verbalize their own thinking, and to make connections.

Short, simple games and activities support us in keeping children actively engaged throughout the transition. As educators, it provides us with a quick insight into children's thinking, problem solving and language.

Educators are always looking for opportunities to collect quick snapshots of children's learning to support their assessment and planning. Working as a team, one educator is able to lead the transitional activity and the other educator can take the opportunity to document and capture the learning.

We have found that transitions provide us with great information about what our children know and what they may need more support in understanding. We then use this information to support our planning of small group or learning centre experiences.

Many of the games or activities brainstormed are things that you may already be doing and playing in your own classroom. We would encourage you to think about how you are capturing what is happening to support your assessment and learning.

  • 10 Frame Cards: What do you see?
  • Dot Plates: What do you see? How do you see it?
  • Can you make a number? (e.g., show me "4" using your fingers - multiple ways)
  • Can you make/continue a pattern? (using manipulates or actions)
  • Ten You're Out! (starting at 0, children count in sequence to 10 - child that says 10 transitions)
  • Using a Question to Transition (e.g., "if your name has 3 letters, 4 letters")
  • Guess the Shape (using a feely box or bag - prompt to describe attributes)
  • I Spy: Do you see a shape? (asking students to "spy" shapes in the classroom)
  • Hit the Target Number (in 2 teams, groups are given a target number and count back and forth until the number is reached. Whichever team hits that number, they get a point)
  • Body Numbers: small groups of children use their body to show different numbers
  • What comes before/after? (show a numeral and prompt what comes before or after, could extend to ask what is a number that is a little bit more or a little bit less)
  • Colour Count: count the number of colours you are wearing
  • Bug Under the Rug: Using numbered mat, hide a bug under one of them. Students will guess where it is hiding using the numerals.
  • Say a Number: Educator says a number and prompts child to share a number that is "more" or "less"
  • Instruction using positional language: under, over, beside (e.g., "stand beside the chair, then wash your hands")
  • Instruments and Patterns: Using an instrument child can create a pattern before transitioning - others can repeat their pattern (e.g., bells, rhythm sticks)
  • Simon Says: using patterns, numerals (e.g., "Simon says do 4 jumping jacks")
  • Challenging Problem: "I am thinking of a couple numbers that add up to 8, what could they be?"
  • Measurement Questions: "What is something longer than your finger?" or "Tell me something shorter than your leg"
  • Mystery Bag: place objects in a bag, student feels and records the number to represent their thinking (e.g., feels 3 objects, prints the numeral or makes 3 tally marks)
  • Flash Fingers: show students combinations on fingers and then hide behind back (ask how many did you see?)
  • I say, We say: exploring with a number line - educator says a number and students share orally what would come next (e.g., educator says 4, students say 5)
  • Sorting: based on what students are wearing (e.g., # of buttons, patterns, colours, type of clothes etc)
  • Snap Cube Trains: students listen as educator snaps together objects (or drops into a bucket) and students count how many they "hear"
  • Password: Create a small password pad for door going outdoors or in classroom. Tell students password (could be numerals or colours - could extend to patterning)
  • Transition Magician - put shapes or objects in a basket (all children draw a shape or object) - use shapes as a cue to line up (e.g., all of the circles line up)
  • Show it different ways: record a number on the board (invite students to come and record it in a different way - e.g., dots, tally marks, pictures, fingers) 
  • Grouping/Adding Numbers: give children small numbers (either a card or they can make the number you tell them on their fingers) - call out a large number and have children get together in groups to make it (e.g., make 5 - and students with 2 and 3 get together) 
  • Match My Picture: using unifix/snapcubes 
  • Sound Muncher Puppet: using a puppet, invite the children to find things that the sound muncher will eat (e.g., things that start with “k”)
  • Tisket, Tasket Song/Game: “A tisket, a tasket, there’s letters in my basket. I’ll drop one behind your back to see if you can name it” (student feels the letter and describes what they feel, guesses the letter)
  • Willoby Wallaby: rhyming names
  • Down by the Bay: children contribute rhymes
  • Apples and Bananas Song (inserting different names)
  • Shared Reading or Reciting of Nursery Rhymes (inserting children’s names – e.g., Jack be Nimble)
  • Counting Syllables: using rhythm sticks, clapping, triangle, bells
  • Rhyming Words: sing “I’m thinking of a word, I’m thinking of a word, it rhymes with _________” (choose a student to sing a rhyming word)
  • Building Words: give 3 children a magnetic letter or a paper with a letter on it. Invite them to the front of the group and group tries to determine their word (could be mixed up, could be practicing stretching or blending – e.g., C – A – T)
  • Different Sign In Prompts (e.g., “Does your name have the letter “e”?)
  • Name Prompts (e.g., if your name starts with a ___, if your name is ___ letters long)
  • Silly Name Rhyming
  • Can You Guess My Word (tune of Wheels on the Bus): The sounds in my word go B – A –T, B – A –T , B – A –T, the sounds in my word go B – A –T, can you guess my word?
  • Down in the Classroom (tune of Down by the Station): Down in the classroom, early in the morning, hear the children playing with their sounds. Can you start your name with z, z, z, z, z? (e.g. Zelsey, Kelsey – students take turns adding letter to their name)
  • Letter Stomp: place mats or big letters in middle of circle. Two students will be given clue and first to stomp on the letter wins that round (or could go to wash their hands)
  • Telephone: students sit in line (or lines), student at the back draws a letter on back of student in front of them, continues up to front to see if they can say the letter! After each round could transition first student in their line.
  • Letter Monster: using a diaper wipe box (or similar container) add bottle caps with letters on them. Student pulls one out and says the letter, sound, or a word that starts with that letter.
  • Letter/Word mix up: Give students a card with a letter or word (could be picture) on it. They have to find their partner who has a match and sit down.
  • Whiteboard Erase: on easel or whiteboard, record letters and ask students to come up and "erase the B". Great to support students who are not yet printing.

*Note: This post has been updated and altered several times. Each time we present we will continue to build and add ideas onto these lists to support educators in having readily available ideas. Please feel free to leave additional ideas in the comments, we will build those in as well!

Thank you to all of the educators who have participated and contributed their thinking during our Math in Play and Early Literacy courses! Your ideas are so valuable and insightful.

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