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Exploring Math Manipulatives in Kindergarten
Exploring Math Manipulatives in Kindergarten
Julie Dorsey
Friday, September 06, 2019

Have you ever wondering what the Math Block looks like in kindergarten?  Take a look inside Mrs. Friel's kindergarten class on day 5 of school.

Mrs. Friel starts the lesson by visiting the schedule to help students understand where they are in their day. They move the big pink arrow down to math so they can see how much of the day has already gone by as well as what is coming next. 

The first few weeks of kindergarten, and every grade at LaPerche, are all about learning the routines. In math, part of the routine is about learning how to use math maipulatives properly. Mrs. Friel builds the excitement as she introduces a new math manipulative, dice or dot cubes.  Mrs. Friel asks how many sides are on the dot cubes and students call out 4,5,6 and decide they need to count to be sure. 

Mrs. Friel asks how do we sit and they all start to sing, crisscross applesauce, spoons in our bowl.  Yup, the spoons are their hands and into their laps they go. Mrs. Friel uses a book about dot cubes with large colorful pictures to discuss the similarities and differences.  The kids notice they are different colors and sizes.  She asks what do they all have in common?  What makes them the same? They determine they all have the same sets of dots on them. 

When it is time to get into a circle Mrs. Friel begins to sing and they all join in.  By the end of the song, each student has found a safe space at the edge of the rug. Mrs. Friel asks how they could play with the dot cubes safely? The kids have lots of suggestions and after Mrs. Friel models, they all get to try and roll the dot cube safely inside the math trays.  

When she introduces the mini dot cubes (dice as we know them) they are ready and eager to try and play with them safely, rolling them softly so they remain on the tray.  Students carefully take a turn and slide the tray to the next person.  Mrs. Friel is asking What do you notice questions to guide the students to pay close attention to the way students are using the manipulatives.


She introduces a game where students have opportunities to practice using the tools, counting the dots and taking turns with partners.  Mrs. Friel asks one student to come up and model how to play the game with her.  Everyone watches and the expectations are reinforced. 

One student asks if they will all have a teammate to play with and they are all excited when they do!  Students are assigned a partner and a space to play and get right to the game. Mrs. Friel and Mrs. Harrison check in while everyone gets a chance to practice with a partner. 

It's great to be a mathematician in kindergarten at LaPerche!