We’ve been working on a beginning counting and place value unit in math lately, and the premise behind the investigation is that we need to organize and do inventory on things in our classroom (this came after we read a story about a messy family called the Masloppys and how their son Nicholas does just that in their house so they can find things!). We’ve been counting everything in our room. And I do mean everything. If it’s not attached to the floor (or too heavy to pick up), someone has put their mathematician fingers on it!

Kiddos worked in pairs to catalog a collection of classroom items (and then many more as they finished), focusing on using efficient and accurate ways to count the group. Students were charged to find a way to easily share their thinking with others; counting by groups or keeping track made it easier to tell someone else what they had done. Callahan and Jesse were especially proud to share the learning they had brought with them from kindergarten (“Mr. Peacock taught us to make groups of 10!”), and they made bunches of 10 crayons into a bundle of 100!

We have had many conversations sharing kid strategies, tips and suggestions for how to count large groups of things, and then we started to look at the numbers of totals. We wanted to know how many bundles of 10 we would have in each amount (if we counted like Callahan and Jesse!). Our chart began together with some class numbers, and then kiddos got in on the fun (work!) as they continued to count EVERYTHING in our room:

(As a side note, I am always excited with how many possibilities there are for ELA in math–here for example as I could conference with kiddos as they wrote on the chart and helped them work through sounds in words!)

It was funny as kiddos kept running up to me asking “Can I count this?” The more they counted, too, the smarter they got at using efficient groups–notice all the rubber bands, cups and baggies in our pictures?

We counted so many things we needed to record that Rachel asked for a new sheet. Love it!

The next phase is moving into further connections with 10s, as we think about how many we’d have to had to have whole groups of 10 for each item. We’re playing math games to make combinations of 10 in a variety of ways , and will continue this thinking as we move into addition and subtraction. Place value discussions throughout the year will go back to these beginning inventory experiences. 🙂