What do young children do for weeks after Halloween? They play with their stash like King Midas with his golden treasure. Leftover candies also provide opportunities for family math and science playtime graphs.
For more family learning activities see grandparentsteachtoo.org.
ANDEREGG, MACALADY, FOX, HETRICK, KATERS
Sorting into categories help preschool children find and analyze likenesses and differences important for thinking in all school subjects and daily life.
Families can easily support this learning at home because children naturally sort their candy stash. They make piles of attributes like/dislike, keep/ throw out, chocolate/ suckers, and nuts/ no nuts. This is also helps check for safety and determines which candy might "disappear."
After Halloween, spill out the candy stash onto a bed sheet. Explain that you are going to play a Category game with candy they collected. Look at the candy together. What different kinds did children collect? Chocolate bars, suckers, chocolate candy bits, other candy bits, gummy candy, gum sticks, popcorn balls might be placed labeled category piles. Children might add more attribute piles like bar shaped, round, hard, soft, chocolate, and colored. Help children think of other ways to sort. When they have had enough, clean up, and move to another activity.
A pictograph is a graph with drawn pictures or the real things carefully lined up. First children sort out by attributes of shape, size, and kind. Then on a towel make straight line of the same kind of candy brand small Snickers bars. Next to that make a separate line of Three Musketeers. Continue until you have run out of small bars. Make sure the bars make a straight neat bar graph.
Observe the picture bar graph you have made and discuss how graphs help to compare objects with different attributes and organize thoughts for discussion. Talk about the most, least, and equal. Why may some bars more popular than others to hand out?
Preschoolers are also learning Venn diagrams, which are fun to do at home. Cut two pieces of string one yard long. Tie the ends to make two circles. Place on a flat surface and overlap the circles. After sorting the candy pick two categories like bags of small pieces of chocolate and nonchocolate.
Place chocolate in one circle and nonchocolate in the other. Ask children to place their favorites in the section where the circles overlap. The overlapping section has an attribute both circles have in common. They are the favorites of both circles. Continue with different kinds of candies. Each circle has one type and the overlap may have the same color package from both circles, dislikes, or those to give away.
Children's graphing books include: "Lemonade for Sale" by Murphy; "Let's Make a Picture Graph" by Nelson; and "The Great Graph Contest" by Leedy.
Editor's note: This column is penned by retired Marquette Area Public Schools teachers Iris Katers, Jean Hetrick, and Cheryl Anderegg. Esther Macalady is from Golden, Colorado. Tim Fox currently teaches at Superior Hills Elementary. It's supported by Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship, the School of Education, U.P. Children's Museum, U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, and U.P. Parent Awareness of Michigan. Their book "Learning Through the Seasons" is available at area stores and www.grandparentsteachtoo.org. Their mission is to provide fun standards based activities that adults can do in the home to prepare children for school and a lifetime of learning and reduce the stress of child care.