|YOUNG CHILDREN | March 2014|
|Integrating Mathematics Problem Solving and Critical Thinking Into the Curriculum|
|by Gretchen Butera, Amber Friesen, Susan B. Palmer, Joan Lieber, Eva M. Horn, Marci J. Hanson, and Carol Czaja|
The children in Ms. Hunter’s Head Start classroom are fascinated whenever Ms. Winter, the assistant teacher, brings Barry, a large bat puppet, out of his cave to help them solve math problems. Sitting on Ms. Winter’s knee, Barry tells the children that he needs their help to fix a hole in his cave (a decorated cardboard and papier mâché creation in the corner of the room). The children inspect the cave and find the hole. Ms. Hunter suggests that perhaps rocks will work to make the repair.
Ms. Hunter shows the children a large tray of rocks fairly equal in size and two different-size empty boxes. Barry asks the children questions and reviews vocabulary they might need to talk about the problem: “How will I use the rocks to repair the cave’s hole?,” “How many rocks do you think I need?” Ms. Winter writes the numbers the children predict on a piece of chart paper. “Which is the larger box? Which box is smaller?” Ms. Hunter shows the children how one box fits into the other, and she asks the children to predict which box they think will hold more rocks and which box will hold fewer.
The children take turns placing rocks in the boxes until they observe that both boxes are full. Then the children and Ms. Hunter join Barry in counting the rocks in each box to find out which box holds more. Ms. Hunter writes the two numbers on the chart paper. The children compare the numbers and decide that the larger box holds more rocks.
Barry takes the larger box of rocks and flies off to his cave, with the children yelling advice about cave repairs as he goes.
The problem-solving and critical thinking skills the children use to help Barry fix the cave are an important part of early mathematics development. Young children have plenty of curiosity about the world around them, and they like to figure things out about it (Clements & Sarama 2009, 2012). Mathematics includes important tools for doing just that . . . Continue reading
About the Authors
Gretchen Butera, PhD, is associate professor of special education at Indiana University, in Bloomington, and co-investigator for the Children’s School Success Plus project. As an experienced preschool teacher, Gretchen has an ongoing interest in effective instruction for preschool children with disabilities. email@example.com
Amber Friesen, PhD, is an assistant professor in early childhood special education at San Francisco State University in California. Amber teaches graduate courses and works on research related to promoting learning in all young children, including those with disabilities. firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan B. Palmer, PhD, is research professor at the Beach Center on Disability and the Center for Developmental Disabilities at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Susan engages in research to support access to the general education curriculum and self-determination for children with disabilities. email@example.com
Joan Leiber, PhD, is professor in the Special Education Program at the University of Maryland in College Park. Joan has worked with her colleagues to develop and implement CSS+ (Children’s School Success Plus), an integrated preschool curriculum, in Head Start programs. firstname.lastname@example.org
Eva M. Horn, PhD, is a professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas. Eva coordinates the Early Childhood Unified Education teacher preparation program and conducts research on the provision of quality early learning opportunities for all children. email@example.com
Marci J. Hanson, PhD, is a professor of early childhood special education at San Francisco State University (SFSU). She also directs the SFSU Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education with the University of California, Berkeley.
Carol Czaja, PhD, has most recently worked as a field coordinator, coach, and early literacy specialist in research on preschool children at risk of school failure, conducted at Purdue University, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, in West Lafayette, Indiana. Carol previously worked as a special educator.