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Kindergarten classrooms are wonderful settings for teaching with picture books. Use a good book as a springboard to other learning across the curriculum. The Honey Hunters by Francesca Martin is a perfect book to use with problem-solving in math. Here's a simple to prepare and low cost way to ensure that your kindergarten students learn to recognize equal sets and how to share.
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- The Honey Hunters book by Francesca Martin
- zippered sandwich-sized plastic bags (one bag for every group of 3-4 students)
- pretzels (any variety that you choose that fits in the bag) provide enough to have 3 or 4 pretzels per student
- paper towels-one for each group on which to put the pretzels during the activity
Fill bags-One bag per small group:
- If you are planning three students per small group, put 10 pretzels in each bag.
- If you are planning four students per small group, put 13 or 14 pretzels in each bag.
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After you have read The Honey Hunters to your students, have a follow-up discussion, especially focusing on what happened when the animals tried to share the honey.
Then divide your students into small groups of three or four (whatever amount you prepared for when you divided the pretzels into the bags).
Each group forms a small circle and one bag of pretzels is set in the center of the small circle. Instruct the students not to open the bag until you give directions.
Your directions: "The animals fought when they tried to share the honey. It is not good for friends to fight. Your job is to decide with the friends in your group how everyone can have an equal amount. Equal means the same. I will give you five minutes and then we will ask each group how they solved the problem."
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The students will soon discover that they do not have the right amount of pretzels for each person to get the same amount. There will be a pretzel or two left over. How will each group decide what to do? Some groups may try to break the leftover pretzel into equal parts to share. Some groups may have a member who isn't hungry or doesn't like pretzels. In that case, that member won't mind if the others eat the extra pretzel. Some groups may have an impetuous member who grabs the extra pretzel and gobbles it up! How did that make the others in the group feel? In all cases, a discussion of problem solving solutions related to equal amounts and sharing. Lessons will be learned!
Counting and recognizing equal sets in math should be carried out all year long to reinforce concepts students need to know to be able to share. Also remember that teaching with picture books can fit objectives in several areas.
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Martin, Francesca. Honey Hunters.Walker Books LTD, 1994.
Source: Author's own experience from twenty-five years of teaching.