Nature Play On Vancouver Island

Nature Kindergarten On Vancouver Island

Loose Parts Number Boards

In the earlier years of my practice I had a commercial number line which was very colourful and pretty. 

This fall I wanted to involve the children through a math investigation. I began with a number line to five using nature objects like seashells, beach stones and sticks but only to the number five. We collected the objects together then sorted and counted. My intention was to add number groupings five at a time as their numeracy grew but a cougar moved into our forest and I lost the opportunity for the children to gather nature loose parts.

Fall 2016 Number Line

As we needed numbers to twenty, creating a new number line was integrated into our daily math investigations using the loose parts in our counting jars. 
Fall 2016 counting jars

Our process looks like this:

Step One:
  • cut 6x6 cardboard from a box and use black sharpie to print the number- I made about 8 extra numbers
  • collect loose parts in varying sizes of jars
  • place loose parts and number cards around the room on the tables-put 2x the number of jars than cards
  • invite children to build numbers moving from one number card to another for about ten minutes while you take pictures of the arrangements. I asked them to leave their work on the card so that the next person could look at their work and then re-build it using different loose parts

Tip: this is a familiar strategy so required no teaching of the framework as we often begin our indoor work with a math investigation which may be counting, sorting, patterning, building... where the children move from one area to another

Step Two:
  • debrief with children using photos and build criteria -were the number groupings easy to read, could we see the number if the numeral was not on the card, were the loose parts easy to use, did we have a wide variety of loose parts, should they all be nature or could we use recycled materials
Step Three:
  • review criteria, having changed any materials that the group decided was not a good fit and added new materials. Invite the children to build  number sets again while you circulate and nudge children. Take more pictures for the second debrief
Step Four:
  • review criteria, check in with new materials and do a final build. while children are engaged in the next activity invite them to come and glue objects onto cards
  • when dry use magnet strips to hang on white board or pins to hang on display board
Step Five:
  • stand back and admire the new number board


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