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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Math, Estimation, and Kindergarten

It has been funny to watch Leo navigate through his first few weeks of Kindergarten. I wasn’t exactly sure how he was going to feel or respond to the new environment, friends, and routine. To be honest, Leo has surprised me. The best way I can describe his reaction is call it “cool and curious.” Leo likes school, but doesn’t have a lot of excitement. He has some gripes about playground rules and access to toys, but he is sailing along with a measure quiet curiosity. “When can I buy lunch?” “When can I play with the blocks?” “When can my new friend come over?” The academics seem to be taking a back seat.

At home, however, Leo is very excited about learning. Henry has started bringing homework to complete, and Leo wants to participate. We have been playing a math game where I show the boys a group of pennies (5). I take pennies (2) and hide them in one hand. I show the boys what is left (3) and they have to tell me how many pennies they need to make 5 (2). It is a fun way to work on addition facts. Henry is a whiz and we are already working with 12 pennies. Leo, not to be outdone, wants to work up to 6. It’s interesting to watch him work it out in his mind. Henry understands that there is a level of memorization happening while Leo patiently counts with his fingers. I am enjoying bringing math into the house in a fun way.

It seemed like a perfect time to introduce Leo to the concept of Estimation. Henry and I did the Sid Investigation called Estimation Exploration last year, but I hadn’t introduced the concept to Leo yet. When I told Leo we were going to do Sid Homework, he jumped with excitement. Sid has such a special place in his little heart! I put a handful of colored rocks in a bowl and we began.

First, I asked him to look at the bowl. How full was it? He answered that is was almost half full. Next, I asked him to count out 10 stones. I wanted him to see what that amount looked like.


Then I had him put the stones back. This was where the fun started. I asked him to make a guess, or estimation, about how many stones were in the bowl. He took a very long time deciding and came up with 24. Before I could even ask him “How do we check your estimate?” Leo was counting the rocks in the bowl. We lined the stones up in two groups of 10 and counted to 20. Leo was very pleased that his estimate was so close.

We played more rounds; I would add stones or take stones away. A couple of times Leo tried to count stones with his eyes instead of estimating. He didn’t want to be “wrong”. I also took the opportunity to start basic grouping and understanding of sets and skip counting. We made groups of 10s, 5s, and 2s with the stones. We counted by 2s and tried counting by 5s. Leo could have plugged along all night.

More and more, I am finding myself in a position where my boys’ abilities and mental capacity far exceeds my expectations. At this age, they are so smart and so willing to take on new concepts. Leo isn’t wary of math or science, much in the same way he isn’t afraid of Kindergarten. New things mean new possibilities and another chance to “get it right” and excel. It’s amazing how much I learn from them, even with the simple act of doing homework or math games.

What new concepts are your kids bringing home? Are you surprised about how much their little brains can soak up?

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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