Math books are just a small part of the math hour. Each child spends about 10-15 minutes working in their workbooks. The first part of the math time we work on a wide variety of hands-on and group activities. During past couple months we have been working on solving word problems with partners or in small groups.
This is how it works: I tell a story and ask a question about the story. In small groups the children try to figure out how to solve the problem and try to come up with an answer.
Here is an example of one a story I told this week:
In a house there lived a man, a woman, a child, a bird, and a dog. One day the child wanted to know how many legs there were in the house.
The class was divided into 4 group and given the task of figuring out the answer for the child. They had a paper and pencil. They could figure out the answer using any technique they wanted.
-One group made a drawing of the people and animals and then counted the legs.
-Another group made lines to represent the legs and counted their lines.
-Two children used skip counting by 2's, stating the the dog had 4 legs so that was 2, 2's.
-The fourth group wrote a number problem to determine the answer:
With this assignment the process critical. The children must work as a team, collaborate, and present what they did to others. All the children see first hand that there is not just one way to get to the right answer.