We began by including a hundred chart in our SMART Board calendar. Every student created a coloured, semi-transparent square to place on the chart to mark the number of calves on their farm. If students didn't have cattle of their own, they were related to someone who did--students reported on their grandparents' cattle for example.
After we recorded our calving numbers on the chart, we made comparisons among the numbers. I made a point of explaining that it wasn't a contest to see who had the most calves, but a way for us to learn more about numbers and share what was happening on our farms. However, that didn't stop my students from taking great joy in having more calves than Mrs. Caldwell most days!
My local co-op feed and hardware store was kind enough to give each of my students their very own calving record book (the kind that real farmers use). So each day, we recorded our calving totals in our record books. This gave the students an opportunity to practice printing numbers as well as copying the date off the SMART Board (strengthening visual-motor coordination in preparation for Grade 1).
Next we represented our numbers to share with our school population and through social media. We tried to represent our calving totals in different ways.
Representing our numbers using ten frames
We displayed our daily calving report in the hallway outside our classroom. Lots of people looked at it and asked us questions about it. My students were eager to explain what was happening with calving, confidently using numbers from 1-300!
Lastly, our daily calving report provided an opportunity for real-life problem-solving. This allowed us to explore early multiplication and skip counting.
This learning activity was a huge success for a number of reasons:
-it emerged directly from my students' interests and students were highly motivated and engaged
-it fostered strong connections with families and extended families
-it underscored the importance of agriculture and helped kids take pride in their agricultural operations
-it provided an extremely relevant way for students to explore, represent, and compare numerals and quantities from 1-300
Agriculture is an extremely important industry in rural Manitoba, and I'm proud to say that as young as kindergarten, we are contributing to the next generation of farmers!
"That's the thing about farming...you clock in at age 5 and never truly clock out." -Unknown