Mar 24, 2016

WonderWorks: Calculators and "charting" numbers

A kid-friendly technology that's actually electronic!

Today's Topic: Calculators
enough calculators for each participant to have their own (I got mine at the dollar store)
paper with a large grid printed on it
optional: ask parents to bring in a variety of types of calculators


cover art Push button / Aliki
The inspiration for this class (or "what I thought kids might do"): 
This blog post from Teach Preschool

What the kids actually did:
a few kids really loved pushing the buttons
a large number of the kids enjoyed writing (or "pretend writing") numbers in the blocks on the grid:

 (love this tongue of concentration below!) There were some very creative pencil grip positions:

 Some of the pretend writing was quite large:
 One older sibling was trying to put a little more order into this way-too-open-ended-for-her activity:
 and these guys had a different idea about what numbers to write in their blocks:
Some of the kids wanted to see if the different calculators gave different answers.  Or at least made the numbers look different.
 This young scientist wanted to see what would happen if she mashed two calculators together, face-to-face:
 This young scientist noticed something interesting as she dragged her finger across the LCD screen:
 I challenged these older, very clever siblings to come up with words on the upside-down calculator screen.  Here's "hi"
and in Spanish, "El sol"
 Hey, those graph pages make great telescopes!
 This was one of the reflection journal pages.  This scientist's mom told me it was the most directly representational drawing she's seen her daughter make.  The polka-dotted oblong shape is the child, the dark black spot is the calculator and I think the straight line is her pencil (Mama A, correct me if I got that wrong!).

Adult Challenge of the week:  Watch.  There is no way for your kid to do this "wrong" so just sit back and see where their exploration takes you.

Hindsight Tip:  I don't think the kids in my class were as enthralled with this project as the inspirational blog post.  I see now that that post was written in 2012.  I wonder if the rapid increase in tablet usage has decreased the appeal of the calculator?  Or just that there are too many devices that already have calculators that kids might have played with before? I think there was almost as much interest in just writing numbers in boxes as they was with pressing buttons.

 Variations to try: 
If you could get a wide variety of calculators (huge, tiny, on a smartphone, the kind that print on receipt-like paper) that might elevate the interest level a little longer.

Related Apps: the calculator app!

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