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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Math Website Reviews

       I'll be honest, I'm not usually a big fan of computers in the early childhood classroom. I think that this is due to the fact that I believe it to take away from the social interactions that children so desperately need at such a young age. However, I understand that we live in a technology driven world and I do want to prepare the children for the future. With that in mind, I have been looking into various websites for children that promote early childhood math skills. Here are 3 websites that I have found to be helpful and how I would use them in my classroom.

The first website which I decided to evaluate was Illuminations. I found this to be a very user friendly website with a wealth of lessons and activities to use in the pre-k to 2nd grade classroom. When you first go to the website you are prompted to choose activities, lessons, standards or web links. I found the best way to use this site was to click on activities and then pre-k to 2. My favorite activity was the patch tool, where you can use virtual tangrams to make a variety of shapes and pictures such as boats or animals. I would use this activity in my classroom after having the students use real tangrams to build with. Once the students become familiar with this idea I would then introduce them to this website. I would first explicitly show them how to use this website in a group setting and then I would have the students work in pairs at the computer to use that particular activity. The goal would be to use this in a geometry lesson to teach about how to put various shapes together to make something new. I think this would then enhance their understanding of these shapes even further by looking at it in a new light using technology. The Mass frameworks which would be covered under this activity from this website would be K.G.2 Correctly name shapes regardless of their orientations or overall size and K.G.6 Compose simple shapes to form larger shapes. I think this website could be a great learning tool to use in conjunction with the hands on learning of the regular classroom routine.

    The next website which I decided to evaluate was reading resource which is mainly a literacy site but has recently added math activities as well. This website was a little hard to navigate at first and can be very overwhelming at a quick glance. Once I found the math page I was able to bookmark it so that I will be able to get back in later. There were lots of fun interactive games that I think the students would enjoy to use as a review. Two of the activities that I really liked was the balloon pop math for counting and for ordering. This activity first has the students pop the balloons in order from 1 to 10 and counts along. The next activity gives the student 3 balloons each time and the student has to pop them in order from the smallest number to the largest. This is certainly something I would use in the pre-k classroom as a review for all students. I would use the first activity in a group setting and then would let the students individually have a turn to complete the second activity and pop the balloons from lowest to highest number. This would link to the Mass frameworks in the domain of counting and cardinality for pre-k. PK.CC.2 Recognize and name written numerals 1-10 and PK.CC.3 Understand the relationships between numerals and quantities up to ten. The only thing that I really do not like about this website is all the adds which take up the entire left side of the screen during the learning activity which I think might be distracting to some of the students. However, I do believe that there is a wealth of valuable content being taught through the activities and games on the website that this should help to keep the student interested and engaged.

    The final website which I decided to evaluate was called fun brain. This website is bright and colorful, very easy to use and extremely child friendly. It is easy to navigate and you are prompted with the age range you would like math games for right away to make searching easier for the teacher or parent. After browsing the website I decided to look at the math games that would relate to my pre-k students. One of the games I liked was the bunny count. For this math game the students are shown a certain amount of bunnies and are given two answers to choose from. I would have the students use this website independently as a fun way to work on matching quantities to the corresponding numeral. This would relate to the Mass frameworks in Counting and Cardinality, PK.CC.3 Understand the relationships between numerals and quantities up to ten.
 (On a side note, I would like to add that I think technology can be a wonderful thing but we have to remember that we do not want it to consume our children's lives. Therefore, all of these websites I would only use sparingly in the classroom as an extension never as the actual learning lesson. In my opinion, nothing can take the place of actual hands on learning in a fun and engaging environment.)

Questions for discussion:
Should we use computers with 4 year olds in the classroom? What math websites do you use with your children or students? Please comment below and share your thoughts.

Click here for an example of one of my favorite hands on math learning games that I use in the classroom.

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