Class 2: Awakening curiosity

Typically, in Class 2 the children have found their feet at school and are eager to learn. They start to look outwards into the world and their social interactions. It is a time where the children will navigate changing social dynamics and see the differences in themselves and others. The curriculum reflects this for the children and gives them a means to make sense of the world and appeal to their awakened curiosity and developing self-confidence.

During this term, the children of Class 2K have stepped into the social realm. To give them a subject to satisfy their hunger for knowledge and eagerness to master a skill, we have been looking at mathematical place value.  The children have been listening to a story, The People of the Bush, where a group of children gather firewood in preparation for the cold season to come; reflecting what is happening in the children’s own environment. Throughout the story the characters are faced with various challenges; specifically, how to organise and arrange a large quantity of objects, in this case firewood. Alongside listening to the story, the children experienced this for themselves, with a large number of rainbow sticks scattered around the classroom, facing them with the challenge of counting how many there were in total.

This task was given to the children in an open-ended way. They experienced what it is like to count many objects without organising or grouping them. This forms the foundation for introducing place value to the children. Despite not being told why place value of numbers is important, children draw their own conclusions after trying to count the objects without an organising strategy.

Through the story, the children are given images of how objects can be organised to help with counting. First the firewood is bundled into bunches of 10 pieces of firewood. Then, 10 bunches of firewood are placed into baskets and 10 baskets are placed into a hut. This is the children’s first experience of ones, tens and hundreds. The children organise the matchsticks in this way to help with counting. When they realised counting in bundles of ten was still too small, we then moved to bags of 100 and little huts of 1000. At the end, the class counted 4,327 matchsticks in total.

Providing the children with an opportunity to experience a maths concept in this way allows it to live in them as they make sense of it through story and first-hand experience. This also caters for children who learn in different ways and ensures all children can access what is being taught.

The class are now hearing stories of adding large amounts of objects together and re-enacting these stories using concrete materials. We then expand on this by solving other sums using ones, tens and hundreds.

It is such a wonderful experience as a teacher to watch a whole class work together to solve a problem so eagerly that they would rather continue the task than go out to play, calling out excitedly to each other a new strategy for counting or a pattern they have noticed. It is in these moments I am reminded of how lucky we are to teach children in such a beautiful, organic way where their thirst for knowledge and excitement of discovery is nurtured and encouraged.

Kate Barsby
Class 2 Teacher