Arithmetic Village meets real world children!

<img class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-155″ src=”″ alt=”” width=”300″ height=”225″ />Finally, here I am, real live children, not my own, in a circle before me, wiggling and squirming. Eleven excited children ages five to seven. Mostly boys. I take a big breath and start reading. “Hey, This is a rhyming book” interjects curly hair bright spark next to me. “Yes!” I say and continue. “It is really, really rhyming!” she adds enthusiastically.

The book keeps their attention all they way through. I ask them to lay down eyes hidden. Two helpers toss thousands of jewels throughout the room. We pretend that we live in arithmetic Village and it is Tuesday Morning before sunrise. The jewels sounds like soft rain falling lightly. They open their eyes and sounds of delight fill the room. They grab as many as they can as they crawl and run around. Soon they can’t carry them all. “What do they use in Arithmetic Village if they can’t carry them all?” I ask. “Golden sacks!” they say as I take out the stash of bags. “Ten Jewels in each bag” I say. The next few minutes are bliss. Eleven children count out loud, but to themselves… nine ten.. one two three…

When ten bags were filled, they went to the table where a golden treasure chest awaited to be decorated just for them. “Yay, I’m done!” I thought to myself. THEN antsy seven year old big eyed boy writes his name on his treasure chest and says DONE. I have twenty more minutes to fill in this class….I internally panic, though my bright red face is hard to hide.

Twenty more minutes is a very long time with 11 children and nothing more to do….A sweet girls asks if she can draw a picture and I take it on as if it was my idea. (There were also 5 parents and a couple of babies who chose to stay and watch..) Yes, of course after you decorate your chest, draw a picture of what you would have in your very own village..

It is now that the difference between the five and seven year olds is glaringly obvious and a bit of an issue. Some five year olds don’t know how to write their name, let alone numbers. While the young ones draw, I hang around the older ones, asking them questions. “What would 100 look like in Arithmetic village?” ” easy.. a treasure chest!” “So what would 101 look like?” “One treasure chest and one jewel.” Soon big eyed boy asks me what 89 plus 89 is. I ask him to draw it in Arithmetic Village symbols. He quickly draws two sets of 8 bags and 9 jewels. Then he draws a circle around ten of the jewels to make another bag, and draws a circle around ten of the bags to make a treasure chest. “178!” he says excitedly.

What I’ve learned for next week’s Polly Plus hour, I need two groups and an assistant to help with the younger kids. The younger children will have active adding games and drama, and the older ones will play with larger numbers and placement value. For next term I will start the group at seven, not five years old. I will also have more back up activities for the fast finishers. I’ve researched the Internet for more ideas, and sadly there is so little out there, I’ll have to make up my own games from scratch again…

All in all it felt successful, but I have renewed respect for those teachers who do this all day, all week:)