Counting Collections

“…Children need lots of experience with counting to learn which number comes next, how this number sequence is related to the objects in front of them, and how to keep track of which ones have been counted and which still need to be counted (Fuson 1988).”

It makes sense, doesn’t it?

But, funny thing is, we don’t spend nearly the amount of time we need to just letting kids count.  Or, at least I didn’t.

Then I found Counting Collections.  I read it and realize that I hadn’t been doing things exactly right.  I thought about the first few weeks of school – mountains of spirals, rubs of glue sticks, pencils galore – all things begging to be counted.  Luckily, my students have a teacher that takes a LONG TIME to get organized!

So, we started counting.

I learned so much about the students by just watching them count.  I listened and watched. And we kept finding things and reasons to count.  I could look at out game tiles and ponder aloud, “I wonder how many tiles are red?”  Or, asking for help for my messy toddler, “I wish I knew how many army men are still in this bag!”

The funny thing was, it never got boring.  Counting was exciting.  Counting is engaging.  We will never run out of things that needed to be counted.

But we started finding that in order to keep track of things, we needed to start writing it all down so we could share our collections with other mathematicians in our class.  And so the hunt for efficient counting AND recording strategies was on!

 We started finding more and more efficient ways to keep track of our collections.  We started having long conversations about the way our fellow mathematicians were recording large numbers of objects.  Two of our favorites we made big and talked, in length, about why THEY thought these ways were great ways to show how the counted and how many their were.

Some students can get through 2 collections, counted and recorded.  Some are still exploring with different ways to organize.  

But I’m still watching, and listening, and learning so much about the students in my classroom. 

And finally!  I see the reason why semi-irratic disorganization in a room full of 21 first graders is a GREAT thing… Because it’ll provide us endless opportunities to continue Counting Collections.