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reggio inspired play dough and math play

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Play dough on the floor with small parts has become a norm here in our household. John asks to use the play dough quite a bit. Ever since we brought it onto the floor, with a mirror, on a board, John has gravitated towards scuplting and creating and thinking with it.  You’ll notice that our green, red, and blue play dough is now a gray color.  Just the way John likes it.  And more times than not, I try to get some learning in before the play dough becomes a weapon …. which it always does.

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I try to combine play dough play time with mathematics learning. I showed John the measurements of each of his little Cuisenaire rods. These rods teach length and comparison.  They can be used for imaginative play and mathematics equations.

I showed John how each length can represent 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 — I set them beside their corresponding sandpaper number.  We have been focusing on these five numbers first, so that he solidly remembers them without feeling overwhelmed.  While I believe in immersion learning and understanding for some children, I recognize that mastery, for my son, is best for him right now.  You must know your learner and determine how they make sense of the world, and let that guide your teaching and your days.

That is to say, I am not going to overwhelm him with an “8” or “9” or “10” right now, though he recites from his number chart every morning in our home preschool.  As far as direct recognition, he knows 1 through 5 — we moved up to working on number 6 this week, and once we get to 10, we will stay there for a while.  Learning the base ten is so important, that is why these Cuisenaire rods are a great tool to have for children.  You can see and create values of:

9 + 1 = 10

8+ 2 = 10

7 + 3 = 10

6 + 4 = 10

5 + 5 = 10


And on we learn.  Right now, playing means exposure.  And small parts, like these Cuisenaire rods, or a Spielgaben set, enhance math and spatial learning.  Or they can become weapons ;)

I’ll be sharing our nature table turned math table soon — we are adapting our play environments according to interests.  My hope is to be able to have the play dough accessible during the day, but my 2 year old daughter wants to still walk it around the house and carpet, we are still teaching norms for how to use, where to play, how to put away, our materials.  I hope to continue to learn how to teach these independent behaviors to my children — so they feel more self-sufficient, and so I don’t have to do all the work for them!







More :

Cuisenaire rods alphabet book

Reggio inspired preschool math

Reggio inspired shapes learning

Reggio inspired play room

Fall no cook play dough

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