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"Play-Based? Math" Activity

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This activity for teacher educators accompanies the "Play-Based? Math?" vignette to address beliefs and attitudes about mathematics teaching and learning in the early childhood classroom. This activity will help teachers examine their role in mathematics instruction within a play-based environment or philosophy.

by Linda M. Platas

Activity for Teacher Educators


This activity begins with participants reading "Play-based? Math?" Vignette and Counting on Counting. This can be assigned as homework prior to the session, or done during the session before starting the activity. This activity can be done with or without the accompanying worksheet and PowerPoint slide, both of which you can download below. 

Participants should be provided with the questions before reading "Play-based? Math?" Vignette and Counting on Counting. Ask them to think about the questions as they read.

Table Talk

Ask the participants to spend some time thinking about their answers to these questions (if you are using the worksheet, they can jot down their thoughts) prior to discussing the questions in their group.

Group share

Call on groups to share their answers with the class. Participants will be probably be on a wide spectrum of beliefs about supporting mathematical development in play-based environments. Allowing them to talk in a non-judgmental environment can set the stage for later conversations. Their answers will help you understand more about what sort of support they will need to facilitate mathematical development in their classrooms.  

Teacher Responses and Where to Take Them 
The "Play-based? Math?" Vignette provides you with an opportunity to explore your participants’ beliefs about math instruction in the classroom. Many teachers believe that play-based environments, by their definition, do not include planned and intentional activities. Help participants understand that play can include carefully supported counting opportunities (for example, helping children use counting as a way to share fairly) and planned teacher-guided playful activities. Ask participants for examples of both of these supports for mathematical development as they report back to the group.
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