Kindergarten teacher Robyn Wisinski has been secretly teaching her students algebra.
Using a color-coordinated number chart and a pointer, she led her 5- and 6-year-old students Wednesday as they counted by tens up to 80, then by ones up to 87 to represent the number of days the students have been at Edison Elementary School this year.
Then came the excitement.
“We’re almost at 100!” one student called out, prompting Wisinski to ask the class how many days were left until day 100.
No one had an answer, but the students were learning algebraic principles, even simple ones, just by looking at the chart, she said.
“You’re really saying, 86 plus ‘x’ equals 100,” she said of the counting activity, which involved a large display of slots, 86 of which were filled with numbered cards. Wisinski chose a student to add the 87th card, which left 13 empty slots on the chart.
“It’s a very authentic way to introduce that concept,” she said.
The class also worked on patterns, counting through pictures of apples and books and predicting which one would come next.
The series of tasks left Wisinski confident about the students’ mathematics potential.
After a few more counting activities, Wisinski turned the students loose on a set of math games, with some choosing to play with dominoes and others opting to trace geometric shapes.
Sophia Sarieva, 5, decided to play “building a train” with four peers.
Each student had a set of small cubes and took turns rolling a die to see how many cubes they could add to their individual rows of cubes.
“I got one,” Sophia said after rolling her die. “So I put one block. Whoever gets 10, they win, and then we play again.
Jessica Garcia-Hurtado, 5, chose to use only purple blocks for her train, adding five to her row during her turn, while her friend, 6-year-old Nicole Torres, fell behind after rolling the same number three consecutive times.
“I got one again!” she called out with glee, unaffected by her luck.
Harutun Dobroyan, 5, was almost too focused on his set of cubes to talk.
He was filling a numbered grid by placing a cube onto each space, up to 100.
Harutun placed another cube on the grid.
“One hundred,” he said, repeating the number to himself as he grabbed more of the yellow blocks from a nearby container.
The games were simple but helped students build an important familiarity with numbers because the activities were interactive, Wisinski said.
“They’re fun, and if kids are having fun while they’re learning, they’re going to want to keep on learning,” she said.
KIDS TALK BACK
The Glendale News-Press visited a kindergarten class at Edison Elementary School and asked students, “What is your favorite math game, and why?”
“My favorite math game is something like you have to draw [shapes].”
DANIEL ARAKELIAN, 5
“I like the tracing because I trace good and I make patterns with tracing.”
SOPHIA SARIEVA, 5
“Build a train because . . . I always want to learn.”
JESSICA GARCIA-HURTADO, 5
“Train game because we’re making trains.”
ARVIN DAVOODI, 6
“I like the tracing because it’s fun to play and trace.”
ELIZA PETROSIAN, 5