May 11, 2016

Before we went to work time, the children were presented with a multi-step math problem in the Morning Message. The problem asked, "How many children are 4? How many children are 5? Which group is bigger, and how much bigger is it?" We solved this problem by counting the 4-year-olds and the 5-year-olds--we discovered that 12 children are 4 and 6 are 5. We knew immediately that 12 is bigger than 6, though finding out how much bigger was a bit trickier. It was the first comparison subtraction word problem that we've come across, so Sammy modeled the problem with Unifix cubes, making groups of 12 and 6, and then stacking them to get the difference. This problem sparked a mathematical discussion--so many children had different discoveries and observations about numbers that they wanted to share! One child noticed that the difference between 12 and 6 was half of 12, and then children began making conjectures about sums of numbers, guessing the sum of different numbers and testing their guesses with Unifix cubes. Solving one challenging problem as a group is a great way to discuss and explore our mathematical thinking, and real life problems like this one provide a meaningful context for children to learn and apply math skills.