Literature To Use
- A Variety of Nature Items
- Round placemat or a cardboard circle
- Stick (About 12 inches long)
Being able to classify and group items into a set is an important mathematical concept for children to develop. The matching and sorting process actually begins during infancy. Babies learn very quickly that different noises evoke particular responses from their parents. As their understanding of their environment and language develop, children continue sorting and classifying.
This process of making sense of the environment is a child's first step in the math activities of matching, sorting and classifying. Children start to notice how things are alike and how they are different as they explore their world. They begin to sort things by characteristics that have specific meaning to them.
Showing a child how math is part of their everyday world is the key to solidifying important math skills. Sorting and matching are skills that can be taught naturally which then, will carry over to the next level of math skills. It is important to reinforce these skills at different levels of difficulties. This will help kids see they will use these skills in their every day lives.
-Information came from "Matching and sorting are early stages of math development" by Angela Harris, Michigan State University Extension (March 26, 2013)
Use the book Sort It Out by Barbara Mairconda and/or The Button Box by Margarette S. Reid to start the sorting activity.
- Take a walk/hike and gather a variety of nature items. Collect them in a bag. Or provide your child with items from previous hikes.
- Place all the collected items out on the ground or table.
- Have the children closely look at all the items and think about how they are similar and different.
- You can either give the children specific categories or just have them create their own categories. If you find a child is struggling with coming up with the categories, then provide some for him/her.
- The children sort all of the items. They might have some items that fall into two different categories.
MATH SKILLS PRACTICE (COMPARING)
- Once you have the categories, this is a great opportunity to start comparing the amounts.
- Have the children count the number of items in each category. (You can write the amount on index cards and place next to each category.)
- You can help them skip count to help them count faster.
- Compare the numbers. Use vocabulary words like (least, more, most, amount)
- Create math problems with the numbers.
- "How many more pinecones are there than acorns?"
- "How many acorns AND pinecones are all together?"
You can start out reading the nonfiction books about symmetry. These explain what symmetry is and how nature is full of symmetry. Then you can tie in the books Anywhere Artist by Nikki Slade Robinson and The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashely Spires. These books are used just for inspiration to create beautiful artwork using nature items.
- You can use circle placemats (I get them at the dollar store) to create a base for they SYMMETRY activity.
- Take a stick and place it in the middle of the circle placemat so it divides the placemat in half. Look at the picture below where I have set up a few of these on a table during a workshop.
- Have all the materials available to children. (items from nature, placemat, and stick-they can use the items from their categories that they sorted in the previous activity.)
- Have the children work individually or with a partner.
- One child turns his/her back to the placemat. The partner creates a design on one side of the stick.
- When Partner 1 is finished with his/her design, Partner 2 turns around and looks at the design. He/she recreates the design on the opposite side of the stick to make it SYMMETRICAL.
- Each child gets his/her own materials and creates a symmetrical design on the placemat.
- The stick down the middle of the placemat helps the child create a more symmetrical design.
- Have specific requirements for this activity. For example a specific number needs to be in the design or texture etc.
- Create symmetrical butterflies and dragonflies using leaves, helicopters (maple seeds), sticks, etc.
- Read the following poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
- A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism that represent the universe. Mandala means "circle." This circle is filled with all kinds of repeated patterns of geometric figures. Because of the symmetrical shape, your attention is directed to the center.
- Have the children create mandalas using the symmetrical concepts.
- Take photos of each symmetrical design made with nature items. Print these and put them into a book for the children to look at and identify the symmetry.