This year I have some highly excitable and energetic young learners. It feels like we spent a great deal of time at the beginning just learning how to sit and stay in our seats and not run from one place to another—even inside the classroom! It felt like there was a lot of “no” and “don’t” coming from me and to be honest; that can be incredibly exhausting. Instead of trying to beat them-I joined them. We get really silly during math in my classroom. We play games. We move around. We explore. We talk to each other. My kiddos need to move. Instead of spending a great deal of time working through our workbooks we act out what we are learning about.
Manipulatives are a great way to exercise those fine motor skills we are helping to develop in kindergarten, but let’s not forget the importance of gross motor skills and physical activity! It has been proven time and time again that we all learn best when we are actively engaged. Physical Education is one of the easiest and best ways I integrate math content. Even if it is just simple exercises we count everything! We might do a set of five arm curls and then I’ll say “Ok class, what is one more than 5?” They will yell out “6!” and then we will do six arms curls. Sometimes I’ll just write a number on a small white board and they have to do that many jumping jacks, lunges, etc. As the year progresses we might have a conversation that goes like this, “If we did three squats and then we did three big arm circles, how many exercises did we do all together?” Another fun thing we like to do is make a human ten frame! Our meeting area rug has a grid of thirty squares so it lends itself quite easily to this task. I will write a number on the board and then the kids will have to show me that number on the carpet “ten frame” using their bodies. It’s great because they get to move around, they need to talk with one another and negotiate and navigate their physical space all while being actively engaged in the math content. Acting out math problems is another favorite especially when the kids get to be silly and perform for their classmates. We know that kids learn best when they are doing and the little ones learn especially well when they are moving, so why not combine the two and see the benefits?