Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lesson 1- Kids and Graphs

(Some material adapted from "L'enfant et les graphes" by Frédérique Papy; Georges Papy; Danielle Incolle)

Materials: toy microphone, whiteboard or paper, poker chips, flashcards (optional), tangrams

1.      1. Name game- everybody says their name and a silly or interesting thing about themselves
Use a toy microphone, or any other object (pencil, marker, etc.) to pass around the room. The rule is, if you have the object, you can speak. If you don’t have the object, you have to be silent. Kids are more enthusiastic to talk if they have a pretend microphone, because they have the feeling that everyone is paying attention to them, and that they are “announcing” something. The most common answer that kids gave when they were asked for an interesting or silly fact about themselves was an activity that they like. If the kids are shy, don’t worry! Almost all little kids behave like this when it is their first class.

2.      2. Brothers and Sisters Discussion- There are many kids on a playground- every dot represents a person. How many girls are on the playground? (draw an oval with many dots inside it)
Kids get confused on this one, because they don’t have enough information to figure out the number of girls on the playground, but they think that the teacher wants an answer. They don’t know what to expect from the teacher yet, because it is the first lesson, and most of the kids just start guessing about how many kids there are. If the kids are not paying attention, ask them to count the total number of kids on the playground.

3.      3. How could we show pointing on the diagram (children point to sisters) Now, can you figure out how many girls there are on the playground? (Add arrows to the diagram).
The kids figured out quickly, that to show pointing on the diagram, they had to use arrows. At first, draw some simple arrows (one child points to the other), then slowly increase the level of complexity (two children at each other), and then have a very challenging part, where many kids point to one child on the diagram, and that child points to someone else. The first time around, almost all of the kids said that it was possible to find the number of girls on the playground, because there were arrows pointing to them. Then, after I asked the kids about the girls that didn’t have siblings, everyone changed their answers. For the first few lessons, some of the kids might not answer a question not because they don’t know the answer, but because they are shy. Encourage the kids to share their thoughts and not to worry if they are correct or not.

4.      4. Can you find the brothers? Explain. What about the boys that aren't brothers to anyone?
At the begging, the kids thought that if one child was pointing to another, it meant that they were a brother, but very soon, they realized their mistake. Let the kids think! Don’t rush them or tell them the answer right away! Later the kids figured out that if one child was pointing to another, and that child wasn't pointing back, it meant that the child pointing was a brother. They also realized that if two kids were pointing back and forth at each other it meant they were both girls. Let kids come up to the board, and explain their ideas of which dots are boys or girls, and how they figured it out. They understood that the lonely dots could either be boys that aren't brothers to girls, or girls that aren't sisters to anyone.

5.      5. Add different color arrows- children point to brothers now, and children point to sisters - discuss with the class
If it becomes too confusing and complicated for the kids, erase some of the arrows. Let the kids draw some arrows by themselves. Drawing arrows is a hands-on activity, and kids get less tired and bored if they do hands-on things.

6.      6. Dragon Nim- A dragon took 6 brothers and 6 sisters. One of the brothers wants to escape. The dragon suggested a game: 6 blue and 6 red poker chips in two columns. The 13th chip is a magic apple. Take up to 3 chips from each column in one turn. If you take the poisoned apple, the dragon will eat you. Get a partner to play the game with.
Kids love it, and concentrate much more if there is a story tied on to the problem or puzzle, even if the story makes no sense at all. Kids like it even more if the story is silly. The kids really liked the game, but got tired pretty soon. Don’t expect them to stay on task for too long, because they are very young! Any variation of Nim is fine, and separating the poker chips into columns is optional, and isn’t required to play the game. The poker chips can just be lined up in a row instead of being separated into columns.

7.      7. What doesn't belong-
1.      Bird, bee, snail, airplane
2.      Big red square w/ hole, small red square, big red triangle, big green square
Careful! Don’t let kids start getting mad at each other because they don’t agree on which object doesn't belong. At this age, kids can easily start fighting after an argument. Give the kids a minute to think on their own about which object doesn't belong, and then discuss with the group. Frequently, kids will start asking questions similar to “But which answer is correct, then?” Explain to the kids that in many cases, there is more than one solution to a problem. 

8.      8. Venn Diagram- butterfly, crow, airplane, train, ship- use flashcards
Flashcards can be used to make this a hands-on activity, but just drawing the objects on the board will also work fine. To make Venn Diagrams with the flashcards, yarn or string can be used to form a Venn diagram, and the flashcards can be put inside it. An idea for the categories is things used for travel, and things that fly. Let the kids think of their own categories, though. More interesting ideas can come from the kids.

9.      9. Tangrams- cool down/ optional homework
Use tangram pieces (plastic or paper) to give the kids to play with for a cool down at the end of the class, or as an optional homework, if any of the kids want to do it.

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