Do you ever get caught up in having to have the best supplies, the coolest games, the newest resources? If you’re like me, you spend hours researching the latest methods for teaching old skills, and I spend hours making things as well. But I recently learned that sometimes the easiest, spur-of-the-moment ideas can net just as good a result as the newest technology and resource!
This summer I have been tutoring kindergarten students in math, and I have been having a great time, but I am working with students who have been identified as needing some extra help. These are kids who have already been taught with the conventional resources, so I have been trying to think of new ways to present material they have already heard (but not mastered). They seem to love drawing but frankly we don’t have much time for extras like that until I had a bright idea! I got out the scrap paper and crayons and asked each of them to draw a house. I told them the house had to have a living room, a kitchen and a bedroom. Then I got out the manipulatives (little people and they each had their own handful to work with) and that’s when the fun began!
I told them to put two people in their living room and one person in the kitchen. Then I asked, “How many people in all are in your house?” They added and then they cleared their houses for the next problem. I called out another problem. They put more people in the rooms named and then they added, “How many altogether?” As I continued to call out problems, they became more and more animated about being able to figure out the total number of people in their houses. They became engaged, because I gave them ownership in their task. Their houses were nothing fancy, but they were theirs, and that created a window for learning. We played, and they learned. It was win-win!
My learning for that day: It doesn’t take fancy materials for our kids to learn. It takes ownership!