As part of our Maths work, we engage in problem solving tasks to encourage the practical application of the strategies we are learning in our small groups. At the start of the year our biggest challenge is learning to work systematically to try to find all the possible combination that exist or to gather all the information we need in an organised way. To help encourage these skills we read the story Corduroy about a bear with a missing button.
We then imagined that we ate so much that all the buttons on our clothing had popped off and Jo had to run to the shops at lunchtime to replace them before all the mums and dads got cross! I asked the children to figure out a way to find the total number of buttons I needed to buy. Armed with a pencil and paper the children set about asking their friends and telling others how many buttons they had on their clothing. It was an interesting experiment to watch as the children all approach it differently. Beginning problem solvers simply went around telling everyone else how many buttons they had, without much concern for recording the information about their classmates. Some just asked their friends, while others had a system in place to record the name of the person and how many buttons they had. At this early stage of their schooling, these are all appropriate responses and great starting points for developing understanding and systems to help manage information. You could innovate on this activity at home by asking your child to gather information from several people in an organised and accurate way. At the end of the lesson we gathered together and looked at how others had organised their information. I modelled a good way to keep track and we systematically worked through that method together, discussing why it was important to get EVERYONE's information.