Friday 13 November 2020

Mathematical joy!

Y is the youngest three year old in my class. Though she's becoming more comfortable at school each day, she is still tentative about joining in activities with other children, still holds back from lots. The other day she and I were in front of the big tin cans that hang so they can be hit with bamboo beaters. She watched as I beat out a rhythm on a can - and when I then held the beater out to her, she ran away.

But, when it comes to mathematics, she is in her element. She has a kind of exuberance, of joy playing with numbers and shapes.

I first noticed it when I'd put some Numicon out back in September. Steph - always upping the opportunities for mathematics! - added some jelly numbers. I was amazed when Y quickly matched up the Numicon pieces and the numbers, and seemed to be really enjoying it too!

Doing some mathematics is one of the places Y seems to feel really comfortable alongside other students. Here she is on the left, arranging some of the dot stones:

And here she is in October with the same student, sorting the magnetic Numicon-type shapes:
I'm really pleased that she is happily sociable in her mathematical play. For her, but also for the others - to spread the mathematical joy!

Later in the day, she was at the board with another student, this time putting the pieces up and calling out the numbers as they did. Steph suggested they add the word 'Splat' which seems to give it a bit more drama, making it into more of a game:

We've played this game quite a lot. Now, in November, she's changed it to be 'Splat, two fives!' as she puts a pair of  pieces up with both hands. When it's 'Splat! Two twos!' it makes her laugh.

It's evolving all the time. I brought a pen out and wrote some of the numbers yesterday, and she took the pen from me and enjoyed doing that too:
The idea of equality came up in the Numberblocks episode we watched, and as she was doing this, I was saying how the six and the four together are the same as, are equal to the ten. This might be something we develop more, depending how much it interests her.

Some thoughts:
  • Y's joy in all this is something precious. I don't want it to be dampened by taking any of this out of her hands. She is leading the way, sharing what she's doing with me, and I want to keep it that way.
  • Like I said, the sociability of her enthusiasm is a real asset for the whole class. In these mathematical moments she forgets any diffidence and is happy to take turns or work together with a partner. 
  • I don't think it's important to go too much into the written symbols for numbers at this stage, but Y clearly has an interest in this, and I'm happy to respond to that too.
  • I'm really interested to see how her pleasure and understanding grow, and how it spreads through the class.

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