Our first math day in preschool

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on September 26, 2011

in Counting and Graphing our Math Tokens, Mathematics

I recently shared with you our take-home math bags and after doing so, one of my readers asked if I would go ahead and show how we go about graphing our math tokens….

Let me begin by talking about the sharing process. The children take turns coming to the front of the room so they can take all the tokens out of their bags and share them with the rest of the class…

As each child takes a turn, he or she takes the items out of their bag and places them on the floor for everyone to see. Then the entire class counts along with the child the number of items he or she brought…

Once all the children has a turn to share the math tokens they brought from home, we put all the tokens in a basket so that the children can take a closer look at the tokens during center time. Before we go into sorting, patterning, grouping or all other types of math – we want to explore our math tokens first.

Now for the graphing part. We will take several approaches to graphing our math tokens throughout the year. Each child has their own math graph and keeps it in their math folder. “My Math Graph” has six columns. In the first column, I print the name of the math tokens brought by that specific child that day. In the five columns next to each token, the child then colors a square for each number of tokens that he or she brought that day. So if the child brought five seashells then the child colors in five squares next to the word “seashell.”  Each week, the child will continue adding to this graph. This graph is primarily used to introduce basic graphing skills…

Another graph we are just starting to use is a large group graph.  As the children count their objects, I place tally marks on this graph…


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1 JDaniel4's September 26, 2011 at 7:23 am

I graphing. Thank you for the reminder of great ways to do it.

2 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 26, 2011 at 9:12 am

I love graphing too! I like to explore different ways throughout the school year.

3 La-La's Home Daycare September 26, 2011 at 7:47 am

The kids here love patterns and sorting. Another great idea.

4 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 26, 2011 at 9:13 am

Thank you Lori:)

5 Scott September 26, 2011 at 1:02 pm

What a fun and interactive idea for math! I can see all kinds of possibilities with this. Thanks Deborah.

6 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 26, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I will share more about what we do with this – right now we are just building our collection of tokens (junk) :)

7 Jennifer September 26, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Do you do the Math Bags with your 3 Year Old Class as well as your Pre-K Class (4 & 5 Yr. Olds)?

8 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 27, 2011 at 1:14 am

Yes I do but we don’t do the graphing on the big chart with the threes.

9 Little Wonders' Days September 26, 2011 at 4:04 pm

I think it’s great that you have made math fun and very hands on for your kids! Thanks again for the great ideas.

10 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 27, 2011 at 1:13 am

You are welcome:)

11 Julie Locke October 12, 2011 at 11:58 am

I love this idea and want to do it with my preschool class. How do you do the individual graphing if the child brings all different objects? Do you put the name of each object on a separate line?

Thanks for such a great idea.

12 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Yes, I put each name of each type of object on its own line. As a general rule, my students bring all the same types of objects each day. I am not sure if this is how I told them to do it on the parent note or if this is just what the children started to do and have just kept it going.

13 julie copeland January 7, 2012 at 10:12 am

Can u send me an example of what you included in your note to parents to start the math bags?? I teach 4 and 5 yr olds and am very excited to start these!!

14 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 7, 2012 at 10:45 am

Hi Julie – I have no idea where I saved the original to our parent note! But basically it said…

Dear Parents,
Attached to this note is your child’s new math bag! Each week your child will bring home this math bag. Please return the math bag with no more than five math tokens to preschool by Tuesday of each week. We will have Math Day on Thursdays.

What to do with the math bag?
- Help your child search around the house to find five or less small items (no larger than the palm of a hand) to place in the math
- Invite your child to participate in selecting items to place in the math bag so your child can talk about the items at school.

What type of math tokens should be selected for the math bag?
- Select only small items that can be held in the palm of your child’s hands (we will call the items math tokens).
- No more than five small math tokens each week as we will collect all the items over time which will build quite a collection.
- Make sure to only select items that your child is willing to give away and that do not have to be returned. We will keep all math
tokens the remainder of the school year and they will not come back home.
- Avoid selecting food items for the math bags as we handle and play with the items often. (I didn’t say this but I will next time).

What we will do with the math tokens?
- On math day, each child will take a turn to share their math tokens with the entire group.
- As a large group, the children will count, sort, compare, and graph the math tokens.
- The math tokens will then be saved for additional activities throughout the school year.
- After our math time, the math bags will be emptied out and sent back home to gather new tokens for the next week.

Thank you for helping your child have a successful math experience this year!!

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