Last week, the Prep neighbourhood met Simone, our mathematics support teacher. The purpose of the session was to get to know the children and begin to identify various points of learning around early concepts in number. The focus was on the number five.
We sang the counting songs ‘5 little ducks’ and ‘5 bananas on banana tree’.
The children then learnt about subitising small collections of objects using digital resources presented on the large screen, both using random dot arrangements and dots on five frames. Subitising is the process of immediately recognising how many items are in a small group. This is a vital skill as children need to move from counting all by ones, to trusting the count, recognising units, and identifying different parts that can make up the whole (part-part-whole understanding). For example, five can be 3 and 2, 4 and 1, 5 and zero, etc. Using the fives frame, children can also see that 4 is one less than five, without counting.
The children learnt a game to build their part-part-whole understanding to 5. They sat with a group taking turns to drop 5 two-coloured counters to see which combination they made (4 yellow/1 red or 1 yellow/4 red or 3 yellow/2 red), each turn had to create a different part-whole combination than the previous player. The small group discussions centred around questions such as: “how many more different ways of making five do you think there are?” “How can we know if we have found them all?” “If you have three and we have five altogether, how many must I have?”
The game can be built upon to explore the part-part-whole relations for any given number up to ten. This will become vital for future grouping, addition and subtraction.