“Young students come to understand quantities by having lots of experience with counting.” Mike Flynn /Beyond Answers
There is a lot of counting going on in our Pre-K classrooms! In this lesson, we counted, but also we chose to lean in to algebraic thinking as well!
Pre-K had been studying nursery rhymes. With that them in mind, we decided to mathematize 3 Little Kittens Have Lost Their Mittens.
As the Pre-K team and I talked through the idea, we wondered how students would understand that although each kitten has four feet, each kitten would only have two mittens. Additionally, we wanted to take advantage of the literary connection by asking students to retell the story. Finally, we became concerned about whether our goals- literary and mathematical- could be accomplished during one 40 minute lesson.
With all of those discussions in mind, this became our plan.
Three Little Kittens Have Lost Their Mittens- How many mittens would we have if…?
Count to tell how many.
- one to one
- counts by ones
- organizes to count
- one cat / two mittens; two cats / four mittens…
I can make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
I can use appropriate tools strategically. (drawing, objects, numbers…)
- The nursery rhyme- Three Little Kittens Have Lost Their Mittens
- The video
- Tools with which to represent/solve the problem (“pretend” mittens for our Pre-K kitten actors to wear, cut out ‘kittens’ and ‘mittens’, beans to represent mittens.
- Photos (screenshots from the video) to support retelling and sequencing the nursery rhyme.
- Chart paper.
- Recording paper for students on day 2.
“The three little kittens, they lost their mittens,
And they began to cry.
“Oh mother dear, we sadly fear,
That we have lost our mittens.”
“What! Lost your mittens, you naughty kittens!
Then you shall have no pie.”
The three little kittens, they found their mittens,
And they began to cry,
“Oh, mother dear, see here, see here,
For we have found our mittens.”
“Put on your mittens, you silly kittens,
And you shall have some pie.”
“Purr, purr, purr,
Oh, let us have some pie.”
The three little kittens, put on their mittens,
And soon ate up the pie,
“Oh, mother dear, we greatly fear,
That we have soiled our mittens.”
“What! soiled your mittens, you naughty kittens!”
Then they began to sigh,
“Meow, meow, meow,”
Then they began to sigh.
The three little kittens, they washed their mittens,
And hung them out to dry,
Oh, mother dear, do you not hear,
That we have washed our mittens?”
“What! Washed your mittens, then you’re good kittens,
But I smell a rat close by.”
“Meow, meow, meow,
We smell a rat close by.”
Notice and Notes:
- I can model the story.
- I can organize my collection of mittens to count.
- I can count and tell how many.
- I can record my thinking.
- I can extend the nursery rhyme beyond 3 kittens and determine the total number of mittens the kittens had (with the number of kittens determined by the teacher)
- I can explain my thinking: “If I know how many mittens 3 kittens have, I know how many mittens 4 kittens have because…”
- I can notice/describe a pattern (1 kitten= 2 mittens; 2 kittens=4mittens…
- Listen to the nursery rhyme video.
- Students help place picture cards in order to retell the story. The teacher could place the first card. If needed, offer two choices for a difficult the next card e.g., Did the kittens wash their mittens next or did mother cat say, “Then you shall have no pie.”
- Retell the story once again with students playing the parts of the kittens and the mother cat. With help from the audience, reference the picture cards to retell.
- When the Pre-K kittens hang up their mittens to dry, we can see two and two and two mittens hanging on the line (two mittens per kitten).
- What do you notice about the kittens and their mittens? (they were different colors, each kitten had two mittens…)
- Retell the story one final time using manipulatives. We want to see if students might be confused by the two-dimensional kittens having two beans each for mittens. They didn’t!
- We ended with our T-chart. What do you notice?
These are the sequenced cards. Those bags were our pretend mittens. They fit on the kittens’ hands and were way easier to get on and off. You can see them hanging on the line.
- I wonder…”What if there were more than 3 kittens who lost their mittens? Could we figure out how many mittens were lost then?”
- “Let’s imagine that (5) little kittens have lost their mittens and they began to cry. Meow, meow, meow, meow, and they began to cry.”
- How many mittens were lost?
- Could you show us how many?Could you show how you know?
- Could you draw a picture of the kittens and their mittens?
- Small groups have charts showing how many kittens they will think about who have lost their mittens.
- Students will have a collection of tools (recording sheets, workspaces, pencils, crayons, kittens and beans) available in each group.
- Tell me about what you’re doing/thinking.
- How many mittens did one kitten have?
- What are you trying to find out?
- What did you do first?
- Could you draw a picture to show the mittens? Think about how you could draw that.
- Could you write the number/numbers to show how many there are altogether?
- Can you help us remember what the numbers mean? (with pictures or the beginning letter because we knew they had already studied the m and the K!)
What if there were 4 kittens? What if there were 5?
Can you see the labels? 12 mittens and 6 kittens!
What we learned.
- Two days were needed for this experience! Good decision.
- This was a multi-entry task. Everyone had a place at the problem solving table.
- These Pre-K students are becoming more more and comfortable being asked, “What do you notice?” and “What’s the same and what’s different?”
- Anticipating possible struggles and/or stumbling blocks as a Pre-K teacher team helped make this task accessible and meaningful for all of the students.
- I thought students would model the kittens and mittens, push the beans together, and then reorganize them to count. I never saw that happen!
- There were some students who “just knew” without counting how many mittens the next number of kittens would have, because they saw a pattern!
- Students were comfortable being asked to label their numbers. It just seemed to be a reasonable request to them. How lovely to nudge that habit as Pre-Kers!