My daughter Samantha started her first week in preschool this past week. I’ve been excitedly looking through her backpack for her homework assignments. As a teacher, I love seeing how I can incorporate learning into my daughter’s daily life, and I recognize that parents should work with teachers to give children the support needed for academic growth. One of my favorite things I received in my daughter’s backpack was a calendar of the entire month of September with homework assignments on each night. I also received a breakdown for each day of the first week with an explanation of each learning activity that happened in school as well as vocabulary that the children learned. While preparing for my daughter’s homework of counting how many shoes she owned, I started to consider some other math activities to incorporate into her daily life.
Counting Maryland Blue Crabs
According to PBS.org, some 5 year olds can count to 100 by 10’s at the beginning of the year. Samantha does great in math, as she can count to 100 by 10’s with hardly any guidance, and she really enjoys numbers. To help my daughter continue to grow in her math development, I like to pull from the experiences that she has to activate prior knowledge. For example, this past weekend our family received three dozen Maryland blue crabs.
My daughter was thrilled. Samantha had the best experience learning how to shuck a crab, which she’ll always remember. She loved the taste of the crab and she enjoyed using the mallet to break open the shell. The image of a huge pile of crabs on the table is another memory that Samantha will cherish.
Now, when I teach early math skills, I can build on my daughter’s experience of seeing and touching a large quantity of crabs. Counting to one hundred is fun and silly when we talk about counting one hundred crabs. Estimating quantities sounds more enjoyable to Samantha when she estimates the amount of crabs in a picture, instead of estimating circles and squares.
Because I’ve seen Samantha estimate with numbers up to 20 before, I would build on her skills and use her memory of seeing three dozen crabs to help her estimate with larger numbers. Studying a larger quantity with manipulatives — in this case, the crabs — would be beneficial to my early learner. In a year or so, Samantha would be ready to study manipulation as repeated addition by counting two claws on each crab. Building number sense is key to young learners, which is why our family will clearly need to get more crabs next year to continue our math lessons.
Integrating science would be simple, and teaching about the anatomy of a blue crab would fascinate many kids.