Monday, January 25, 2010

Socially Conscious Math

Today was a Math and Social Studies day and our Main Lesson was the number ten.  After writing "t-e-n" and "10" on the board a few times, we used wooden blocks to answer math facts with sums of ten.  We also outlined our hands, numbered our fingers one through ten, and counted by fives and tens. Then I read a sweet tale about generating good karma, The Little Caterpillar's Stripes, from the Oak Meadow Kindergarten Syllabus.  Introducing math concepts through archetypal stories integrates Math with Social Studies and Language Arts.  For a great article on the significance of integrating subjects, read Why Integrate?: A Case for Collating the Curriculum.
In our socially conscious math story, a fuzzy caterpillar must do ten good deeds in his bug community.  After each act of kindness, he earns a yellow stripe.  After the tenth stripe is earned, he makes a soft nest called a pupa and drifts off to sleep.  When he awakens, he discovers the consequences for his kindness: he's transformed into a beautiful butterfly.  I had Amelie take picture notes while listening, then answer questions on content, characters, sequence, and moral.  We finished in her Main Lesson Book by writing the number ten a few times and drawing a picture from the story.
Wooden blocks are a great tool for nurturing creativity.  Amelie shared these today during Circle Time and asked to name some of the things about them that were the same and different.  Some of our observations were: they are all the same size and shape, there are different patterns in the wood grain, they all have light and dark colors, they all have faded  spots, and, like Friday's snowflakes, no two are the same.  Later, Amelie took a few minutes for building.

Next up, we kept up the social consciousness with a short discussion about the earthquake in Haiti.  We found Haiti on the globe, lit a candle, and had a few moments of silence.  I think we'll do this every day this week. While we certainly don't want our kids feeling scared about events like these, I think acknowledging what is happening in the world is essential to raising conscious, compassionate kids. 
After lunch, it was time for Art-Social Studies integration. This is the last week of our December-January thematic unit, Bringing Back the Light.  To honor the winter season and the various holidays, we've been discussing the return of the sun and what it means to feel full of light.
A dear friend just sent us, You with the Stars in Your Eyes: A Little Girl's Glimpse at Cosmic Consciousness, by Deepak Chopra.  This little treasure fit our thematic unit perfectly... "the stars gave us eyes so they could see themselves."
After five minutes of mindfulness with Susan Kaiser Greenland on mindfulness together, we finished our day with a little dancing and yoga stretching.  Tomorrow we'll see some friends, sign up for the new ballet term, and have a piano lesson.  On Wednesday, we'll revisit the number ten, explore it's essence, march and sing our math facts, and maybe start the letter P.
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