Simple math and graphing in preschool

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on March 15, 2012

in Graphing our Math Tokens, Mathematics

The children absolutely love exploring our math jars and one way we explore the math tokens is to graph them…

As you can see from the photos, we have built up a wonderful collection of math tokens to keep in our estimation jars from our math bag program this year…

For graphing the math tokens, the children begin by selecting two estimation jars that they would like to explore…

Then they take the jars to a table where they will find “graphing paper” that I made on my computer and printed out….

Each child opens their first jar and organizes the tokens on one column of the graph. Then the children open a second jar of math tokens and organizes them in the second column of the graph…

Some of our math tokens didn’t quite fit into the spaces I made for the math graph. I wanted ten spaces (or cells) in each column of the graphs.  When making my own learning materials, I find that I often have to go back and make adjustments along the way….

After putting their items on the graph, I invite the children to estimate which set of tokens has more and which has less…

Then the children count and see how many are on each side of the graph. If there are more than 10 tokens in the jar, most of the children naturally stop when they run out of spaces in each column. Some of the children just start putting the tokens in any empty space. For today, the goal was simply to explore the graphing process, compare the differences between the tokens, and get a feel for how to place them on the graph so they can visually see a difference in the number of objects….

The children really enjoy any activity we do with our math tokens. They will sit and count, sort, graph, and explore the math tokens for lengthy periods of time.  Just when I think they are starting to lose interest, the children always surprise me and jump up to go and pick another jar…

I just love listening to my students as they explore the math tokens. I love listening to the counting and to the funny conversations they have about the math tokens. I think because the tokens are items they have collected from home all year long, they find the tokens much more interesting than just counting bears or blocks.  The math tokens are meaningful to the children because the children are personally invested in the process and the materials…

Oh, and because we keep the math tokens in our special glass estimation jars (baby food jars), the children view the tokens like treasure. I used to keep the jars tucked away until we had math but now that we are entering the last few months of the school year, I no longer do that. I now keep the estimation jars out in plain view at all times for the kids to explore during center time…

And at the end of the day, I walk over and straighten up the jars on the shelf and when I walk away, I look back and think to myself – “Wow, those math tokens and estimation jars are such a cool part of our math program!”

Deborah talking about Math on Fox News

You can view my Math Segment from Indiana Fox News by clicking here or see the video below…

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