During my last visit of the year to the Kindergarten classes at General Currie Elementary, it was a snowy and icy day so we decided to venture outdoors with some iPads to capture images of things that inspired our mathematical thinking. We had a quick talk with the students about how to look for math outdoors – looking up, looking down, looking all around. We talked about what math might look like outdoors – the counting of items, the shape of things, patterns in the environment, as well as sources of inspiration for thinking about math.
One of the first mathematical ideas we played with was shadows – how does your position affect your shadow? what determines the height of your shadow? what do we need to think about if we wanted to put our shadows in height order?
As with the case of all our school sites…there is a story that lives there. General Currie was one of the first one room school houses on what was originally called Lulu Island. We stopped briefly at the historic building that is still on the new school’s site and talked about the time elapsed – what school might have been like, what the neighbourhood might have looked like, etc.
We ventured on to the field and took photos as we walking along noticing nests in trees, tracks in the snow, all sorts of ice and frozen leaves.
The ice was a source of fascination and many questions for the students. They were also very interested in some footprints they found and wondered about the size of different footprints or tracks.
We came back into the classroom and the students used the app Skitch with one of the photographs they took. They labelled, circled or used arrows to show where they noticed math or what inspired a mathematical problem or question.
Classroom teacher Kelly Shuto then showed some of the students “skitches” to the class to inspire further questions.
The following week Kelly tweeted out about the class photo book they had created, based on the idea “What math lives here?”
In this crisp wintery weather, what will your students notice outdoors? What math lives in the frozen puddles and tracks through the snow? How far do animals need to travel to find food? What might your students wonder about?