What exactly are math warm-ups?
The name (taken from Larry Buschman's book Share and Compare) is a little misleading. Yes--I usually do one before we begin a problem as a "warm-up," to get all those little brains working. But I do them throughout the day, as well. I usually do 1-2 during my calendar time/morning meeting. I also squeeze them in whenever I have a few extra minutes to fill.
Sometimes they are whole-group mini-lessons. Sometimes they are skills practice. Sometimes they are centers. Sometimes they are games. Problem-solving takes up the majority of my math instruction, but these supplemental activities are also very important--and fun!
Base your warm-ups on your assessment data.
My warm-ups vary from year to year! Every class is different. If my class is really good at counting, we'll do fewer counting activities. The warm-ups you do with your class may look significantly different from the ones I do with my class.
When re-reading my blog, I realized it seems like I do a few counting problems during week 1 and that's it. We've got it down! (Except NOT!) We count in my class every single day!
Some things to consider when planing your counting warm-ups:
- Do the children in your class have good 1:1 correspondence? Do they touch each object as they count; line them up; push them away?
- Can they subitize (pronounced soobitize)? That means can they "judge the number of objects in a group rapidly, accurately and confidently without touching them." Can they quickly read the dots on domino or dice? This a an essential step in developing good computational fluency!
- Do they understand the concept of cardinality--that "the last word counted represents the numerosity of the set." (After they have counted the number of objects in a set, ask them how many there are. If they can tell you right away, they understand cardinality. If they have to count again, they don't.)
(If you want to impress your principal, casually throw a few of those big words into your next conversation!)
Here are some of my counting warm-ups:
- We rote count to 100 during calendar time. I don't expect every kid to make it to 100 right away--but we keep working on it. Sometimes we do it with funny voices (monster counting, robot counting). Sometimes we sing. (Mark D. Pencil and Friends is always a favorite!)
- We find any excuse to count that we can.I like to present the kids with authentic reasons to count: Count the boys and girls in class (attendance). Do the lunch count. Count the glue sticks to make sure each table has 6. Count the library books to make sure we have them all.
- We do counting activities in our math journals. Here is a counting jar. The students take a jar (recycled food containers), count the objects and then record it in their journal with pictures and words.
- Many times, I let the kids decide what they want to count. For example: Today I am going to count the windows in the room...the backpacks...the markers at my table. At the beginning of the year, I give them limits. I won't let them count the books in our library. But I encourage them to challenge themselves with bigger numbers as the year goes on, their skills improve and we develop advanced strategies (like making groups of 10).
- We play games with dice. Any game. Here's Roll and Count from Hubbard's Cupboard. She has lots of great counting activities in her Math Tubs.
- We also do the Counting Bags from Hubbard's Cupboard. If you've never been to her website, go now!
- Here's an activity where the kids sort dominoes by the number of dots. Very easy to put together!
- Here's a fun game--Gone Buggy! The kids roll a number cube and put that many bugs in the jar. If they roll the fly-swatter, they have to remove a bug. If they roll the bug spray, they have to remove ALL their bugs. Whoever fills their jar first wins!
- Here's another excuse for the kids to get the play-doh out!
So basically--any excuse you can use to get your kids to count will help them attain good numerical fluency, which will, in turn, help them become proficient problem-solvers!