Some weeks my co-op kids have been bored – all 12 of them. One week the oldest children asked to be transferred to the economics class. But I have their attention now…
My co-op Mathematics Topics class ranges from kindergarten to 3rd grade. I dug through Family Math, and Number Sense and Nonsense, as well as preparing young children for mathematics for activities, and the Living Math website for picture book suggestions. My goal is that each class they will hear one book, do one craft and whole body activity. They did like cutting out tangrams – the tidiest cutter had the easiest time making puzzles. They love the Warlord books. I can count on them to be quiet and attentive during the stories. And if they don’t, I can remind them of the beans.
Dried black beans. When our activities are done, if they will sit down quietly in their seats, I give them each a handful of dried black beans. You can shoot them like marbles, arrange them in arrays, triangle numbers, square numbers, and smiley faces. Some imitate our place value activity by counting the beans and moving them into circles, or pairing them to see if they have even or odd numbers. One boy says his sister ate some, uncooked, with no ill effects. When it’s time to clean up, if the beans have fallen on the floor, the kids have an excuse to crawl on the floor to ‘help’ clean up. A lot of giggling and bean throwing seems to happen while they are cleaning up under the tables, but I play dumb.
Black beans as a class motivator, who knew?