Sunday, 23 September 2018

The Art of Mathematical Thinking

"The Pure Mathematician,
 like the Musician, 
is a free Creator 
of his world of ordered

Bertrand Russell

Young children are naturally inquisitive and it is this curiosity about the world around them that drives their initial engagement with materials in the learning environment. Keeping this in mind, the materials for our first mathematical offering this school year were carefully curated not only for their aesthetic properties but also their sensory capabilities. When a child's senses are activated learning takes place on a multi-facated level. The softness of the wool-felt balls, the smoothness of the glass gems and square tiles along with the sharp edges of the wooden cubes all inform the sense of touch and communicate to the child information about the properties and attributes of these materials. This beautiful 100 board from Mirus Toys had been on my wish list for quite some time. I purchased it this summer and I am delighted with the quality and beauty of this board. I will definitely be ordering again from Mirus Toys. It was packaged beautifully and I couldn't be happier with this product. This past week I offered the 100 board and the two loose part trays pictured in the photos to the children for exploration. 

I am sharing some of the children's explorations and  thinking while they engaged with the materials with a small group of peers. Through the documentation of their play the children's own ideas and mathematical thinking became visible. They were able to communicate through their words, the manipulation of materials and their interactions with peers their own thinking and mathematical theories. Their learning was built and shared through the children's interactions with each other. As ideas emerged some were challenged by peers and others were guided and pushed to new understandings in response to the materials. Here's a peek at the depth of the children's explorations and creativity within the art of mathematical thinking. I hope that you find it as fascinating as I did.

"I made a robot that is flying in the air that has lots of jets and can shoot fireworks. It is eating 16 dices at once. That's the number of the robot. There are billions of robots with different numbers. This one is 2, 66, 57."

"Is this a 6?" This child rolled the die counted the dots on top of the die and then located the wooden numeral six in the tray before asking her question. A peer verified that indeed it was a six. Next she found another smaller six and placed it beside the die. She continued exploring the tray this time it was to find the tile with the number six on it. The tile was placed beneath the row of square tiles."

This photo documents two children's exploration of the materials. It began with the one-to-one correspondence of the wooden cubes and the square tiles placed all in a row. Next they worked together using the 100 board. They placed one of the materials after selecting it from the tray in each of the spots on the board. Initially they began to count from 1 to 10 but then continued with the filling the board without counting. Below the row of wooden numbers a puppy is designed by one of the children. She shared, "So two eyes, two feet, two hands. Oh this can be a puppy. How about, we might need these, pom poms, cubes and little small decorations." This exploration was rich in math talk which was communicated as this child created with the materials; naming three-dimensional figures, labeling size, and counting were shared.

Many children rolled the die and then counted out objects. Adding the wooden numbers after counting how many; communicated the total amount of objects used by this child.

After placing each die on the table and counting the dots on top the corresponding number tile was placed by each die. This child shared, "I put them all together and the number." She concluded her exploration by placing the square tiles on top of the dice and number tiles creating identical sets of objects. 

Several of the children counted out the gems in a line. After counting to 12 this child said to his peer, "I have one more than you." He continued to add one gem and recount his row stating the amount counted at the end. This continued until he reached 15. Then he shared, "Oh my I have 15!" The long row of number tiles was created and then the child asked, "What number is this?" 

"Miss it's equal." She placed two rows of five filled with gems going down the 100 board. This child pointed to each gem and counted to five. Then she added more gems to one of the rows. "Now it's not equal. This one has 8 and that one has 5. They are not the same amount. If I add one more it's six." She continued and added two more gems and shared, "There are 8 and now and it's equal." The exploration continued until there were two rows of 10 filled with gems on the 100 board. She concluded and shared the following, "If you put them all in one row it's 10."

After asking for a piece of paper and a pencil the numerals 1 to 10 were recorded before exploring the loose parts and the 100 board together. She selected the glass gems from the tray and placed them in the perimeter of the board. Then she continued to fill in the interior row with gems beside the outside row creating two squares one inside of the other. Next this child shared as she pointed to each of the rows of gems she created, "Miss 2 rows 2 on each side. Twenty." Her design continued and the square tiles were chosen to indicate the square shape of the interior space of the board. 

Certainly the relationship between the materials, the children and their mathematical thinking were alive and visible. We will be reflecting on the documentation captured during this exploration with the children. As they share with each other the photos and their thinking the mathematical processes, language skills and artistic designs they engaged in will serve to teach, inspire and develop new ideas moving forward. 

Looking forward to extending this learning!

Wishing you many creative explorations!

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Designing a Learning Environment

Languages of Learning

Creative Studio

Welcome to the Languages of Learning 
Creative Studio!

We are deeply rooted in the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education which celebrates the capabilities of children through their many languages. I would like to share with you a bit about how we began the Languages of Learning Journey. We began more than two years ago when Susan and I met. Since then there has been many hours of pedagogical dialogue and sharing of ideas and dreams. Our dream is to share our passion for emergent curriculum, inquiry and the creative arts with others. 

It's been almost a year since the launch of our Etsy Shop: Languages of Learning and we couldn't be more thrilled with all the connections we've made with other amazing educators through the shop. We would like to personally thank each and every one of you that has supported this creative educational dream of ours. To shop the Etsy store for our creative learning invitations click here:

We are so thrilled to announce that we now have a creative studio space which we are so excited about. 

"The artistic languages and poetic 
languages allow the other subject matters 
and disciplines to develop in a terrain
that's very fertile for development
of a more human kind of knowledge
where rationality, expressiveness, 
and emotion are all linked."
Vea Vecchi

We are now offering learning sessions within the creative studio. Our first session focusses on "Designing a Reggio-Inspired Environment." During the session we will share our experiences of designing our Reggio classrooms and how the environment supports learning through emergent curriculum, inquiry and creativity. This session will also include Susan's recent experience of the learning environments in Reggio Emilia and considerations for flow of day. Participants will engage in creative invitations and gain ideas for their own learning environments. Start your year with an environment that engages children in becoming life long learners. You will also receive a certificate of completion for this course. We are excited for our fabulous giveaway too! 

To purchase your ticket for the August 14th Workshop from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Click the Eventbrite link below.

 We are thrilled with the number of responses we have received. We are excited to announce this second workshop date available on August 21st from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Click the Eventbrite link below.

We cannot wait to journey with you 
in the creative studio space. 
Get inspired for the 
2018-2019 educational year 
and join us in this learning opportunity. 

If you would like to contact us at the
Languages of Learning Creative Studio 
we would love to hear from you at:
Let's connect!


 Creatively Yours, 


Monday, 2 April 2018

Engaging the Senses ~ Creative Expression

"The senses, being explorers 
of the world, open the way to knowledge. 
Our apparatus for educating 
the senses offers the child a key to guide 
his explorations of the world..."

Dr. Maria Montessori

Many of the children within our learning space engage in imaginative play in the kitchen area on a daily basis. As they re-enact familiar experiences, roles and construct dramatic play with their peers the children build meaning about everyday life. As an observer of this play, one can gather a multitude of information about the children's thinking. We ponder the following: In what ways do the children communicate their ideas? How do they show their previous experiences? What connections through relationships with each other and materials are formed during this play? 

In response to the children's play they were offered the sensory play proposal in the photo above. To engage their senses dried chocolate mint was placed on the wooden scoops. Each material was carefully and thoughtfully chosen to enrich the children's experience. The children were already experienced with scooping and filling using many of the materials from previous experiences within the learning environment. Offering children these types of materials develops not only fine motor skills but leads to the development of their ability to problem solve, make decisions, and connect to the everyday experiences they may see in the kitchens in their homes. What the children within our learning space had not been offered before was the mortar and pestle. They curiously asked about this tool and eagerly added the mint to the mortar and began to pound with the pestle. It will be a tool that we will definitely include more in our provoking of the children's thinking.