As a preservice teacher educator working with students who are just beginning their preschool teaching careers, I have three main goals: (1) to help students draw on their own experiences in mathematics, good and bad, to create supportive mathematical learning environments for preschool children, (2) to support students in gaining knowledge about early mathematical development, and (3) to help students learn how to engage young children in rich mathematical activities.
Preschool Curriculum Course: One Session
These guidelines can provide three or more hours of in-class instruction on early mathematics in a preschool curriculum course. The following activities can be enacted in one class session or broken into two shorter sessions. Participants should have a good grasp of number development in children in order to benefit optimally from this session.
These activities will help participants learn how to support children’s engagement with data in the classroom, and better understand children’s thinking about the uses of data. The activities engage participants in the development of classroom-based questions and problems that can be answered through the use of data, graphing, prediction and analysis.
Preparation Homework for Participants: Readings and Worksheet
- Life is a Sort of Data Gathering Activity
- What Children Know and Need to Know about Data
- The Mathematics of Data
- Data Activity worksheet (download below)
- In order to help participants explore children’s understanding of data and graphing, watch these two videos of Erica and Michael reading picture graphs here and engage participants in the questions below.
- Questions for Reflection:
- What does Erica know about data and graphing?
- What does Michael know about data and graphing?
- What do children need to know about data in order to use it to answer questions and solve problems? (See The Mathematics of Data and What Children Know and Need to Know about Data for a discussion of this.)
- Have participants get together in small groups to discuss their worksheet answers. Ask them to answer the following questions:
- Do the questions and problems engage children in meaningful use of data? What are some ways in which the questions/problems can be improved or changed to engage children in meaningful data activities in the classroom?
- Was the data described sufficient to answer the questions and/or solve the problem? If not, what additional or different data are needed?
- Have participants report out to the whole group on their discussions.
- Then watch this video of Danielle making a prediction here.
- Have participants discuss how prediction can be used in the activities they’ve described in their worksheets to support data collection, analysis, and critical thinking.
- Have participants report out to whole group on their discussion on predictions.
- Ask the following questions:
- Where do you feel you have the most understanding of the use of data in the preschool classroom?
- Where are you still struggling (draw on whole group to provide ideas and support)?
- Summarize the activities during this class (or classes) and ask participants to contribute on what they felt provided their greatest learning opportunities.