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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Linking Art and Math

by Stephanie Bartlett
Lately I have noticed that my bulletin boards don't look very traditional. In fact, if you took a quick glance expecting a display of uniform work, you will be disappointed.
I am wildly proud of my students' work, but feel that I need to explain the process so that people can appreciate how they arrived at the finished product. It started as an art project, extending over a couple of weeks when it fit into our learning. We learned about warm colours one week and experimented with colour and paints. Next, we learned about cool colours and did the same. Throughout this process, we talked about how to  use the water colour paints, how to wash the brushes and the fact that students were free to paint around the room but needed to be responsible and clean up. 

The next time we pulled out the projects, students were given their samples of warm colours and cool colours. Choosing one as the background, they cut the other into rectangles and glued them on as trees. Branches and details in the bark were added on as the finishing touches with a coveted Sharpie marker. 
I could have stopped at that point and put them on the wall but my goal is to teach the students to recognize math in the world around us wherever possible. I distributed the paintings, and scattered counters in the centre of the circle. Students were invited to put a counter on each tree, then write the number on a sticky note, then find where best to display their work on the whiteboard. 

The opportunities to assess this task are many, encompassing fine motor skills, one-to-one correspondence, ability to print numbers, follow directions, and the list goes on. Some students even extended their understanding by drawing another representation of the same number on the sticky note. I documented by taking pictures, recording conversations and making notes for next steps. 

Students were highly engaged in a rich, meaningful task at the end of the day in Kindergarten and I had to stop them to clean up and go home. That speaks volumes to me.