Friday, August 22, 2014

No Pencils for 20 Days

"Kindergarten students shouldn't pick up pencils in math until after the 20th day of school," said our local district math coach.

Our math coach wants us to focus on counting, and not worry about having students write numerals, especially when most of them are unable to connect the numeral to the amount at this point in the year.

Even though this might seem a little unconventional, I have established a daily routine with not a pencil in sight.

Here is my current math routine (focusing on Counting and Cardinality):

1.  Number Talks with Number Strings - currently using subitizing dot plates, but will soon introduce five frames and ten frames with dot patterns.

A number string is a series of related computation problems, which at the beginning of Kindergarten is a series of  related numbers - (dots which are counted).

Students sit on the rug as I show the first dot plate, for a few seconds.

My questions are:
"What do you see?" and "How do you see it?"

And a student may answer:
"I see five dots.  I see two on the top, two on the bottom, and one in the middle."

Then we do the same routine with the other plates in my number string.  Here is an example.

2.  Real World Problem - currently doing this whole group on the rug and charting, but over the next month I will transition to individual math journals - after the first 20 days of school.

Here are a few examples of the kind of counting problems that I present to the students.

Trace or draw your hand.  How many fingers do you have?
Write your name.  How many letters are in your name?
How many crayons do you have in your pencil box?

3.  Counting, counting, and more counting - with a large variety of manipulatives
I challenge my students to count higher than they did the day before.

We review counting strategies.  They grab a baggie full of counters and spend about 15 minutes counting.  I circulate around the room having students count to me.

4.  Wrap Up on the rug
We reflect on the learning during counting time.  I have 1 or 2 students share how many objects they counted and a strategy they used.

My students are enjoying our math time.  They are learning how to correctly use and count with manipulatives, and they really love to count every day.  No boredom here!

12 more days without pencils???  Not a problem!


  1. Thanks so much!! I like that you share your routine. I sent this post to my K teacher that only teaches math this year. :)
    Curious Firsties

    1. It has been working so great this year! Thanks for sharing with your colleague! :)

  2. This is awesome - would love a daily plan for all 20 days - I'd buy it for sure!!!!!