Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

So much fun with such a simple game

Last week was a short week working with the kindergarteners at Longfellow because of their practice for the holiday program on Thursday. I was only able to work with one student on Thursday, but I learned a lot about that student and the kindergarteners I worked with on Tuesday. The students I was able to work with spent most of their time with me playing the “Count/Sort” computer game. This game has students count a random amount of chips from 1 up to a possible total of 32 by clicking each chip to turn it blue and then choosing the correct total from two answer choices. It is very easy for young kids to understand and play, and it clearly shows them if they get the correct answer, with the correct choice turning green when clicked on. The kindergarteners have enjoyed playing this simple game more than the other computer math games, and I have been able to assess their understanding of several more concepts than one would think is possible with such a simple game.

“Count/Sort” can help students develop many number sense skills beyond simply counting, which it obviously helps with by asking students to count an amount of chips from 1 up to 10, 20, or even 32. While students are counting the chips, they also develop understanding of the 1:1 counting concept and learn to count each chip only once, since the chips turn blue once counted. It is also easy to assess students’ understanding of order irrelevance when counting, or to teach them this concept, while they are playing this game. Once students count all of the chips, the chips can be rearranged into a different shape or pattern to teach students the pattern and order counted in do not affect the total number of chips. After all of the chips are counted in each problem, students get practice with number recognition by choosing the correct numeral from two choices for the amount of chips counted. These are all important skills for the kindergarten students to develop as they move toward learning more difficult math concepts later this year and in the first grade.

One of the best parts of working with these kindergarteners so far is seeing how many of these skills they have already developed to a good extent and how quickly they learn new concepts. For example, many of the students do not understand order irrelevance when I first assess this skill. They will count a certain number of chips, and I will then rearrange the chips into the shape of the letter “C,” asking them how many chips there are from each end of the “C.” The students without understanding of order irrelevance count the chips again from each direction and are often surprised to see the total amount does not change. After I explain to them it does not matter what order the chips are counted in as long as no chips are added or taken away, most kindergarteners are able to tell me the total is the same when I move the chips into a straight line. The kindergarteners’ skills in the other concepts assessed by this game are also impressive; many of the students can count to 30 and beyond, almost all understand the 1:1 concept and recognize numbers 1-10, and many recognize numbers up to 30. It is exciting to see these kindergarteners succeed and learn new concepts, but the best part of last week was seeing how much fun they had while learning a lot about math and numbers with the seemingly simple game “Count/Sort.”

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