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Attributes – What are They?

by Early Math Counts

When I was little- around 3 or 4,  legend has it that I was in the grocery store with my mom, when we bumped into our neighbor.  My mother and this woman spent a moment or two catching up and chit chatting while I played in the shopping cart.  When it was time to go, my mother turned to me and said, “Jennifer, say good-bye to Mrs. Kroll,” and I, without missing a beat said, “Here’s to you, Fat Lady.”

This story has been told and retold over the years so often that I question its truthfulness…even though it does make a great story.

Young children will often pick out the most obvious attribute of something they see and point it out.  I’ve had children ask me why my teeth are yellow, or what is wrong with my skin (I have freckles- a lot of them)? It is pretty normal for children to do this.  We, as adults have to remember that they are not making judgments as much as they are making observations.

The word “attribute” usually refer to a specific characteristic or property of a thing (an object, person, idea, or animal).  It helps define that thing by providing a quality to that thing.  An apple can be “red” or “round”- both are attributes, and a dog can be “tall” or “smelly” – also attributes.

We use defining attributes with children as they begin to sort out the world around them.  Once they have a concept of “color” they can use this attribute as a means of sorting, classifying, patterning, and defining.  Some attributes are easy to see – color and shape, while others are much more nuanced and will take longer to understand.

This month, we are going to look at manipulatives that support young children’s understandings of attributes, while also exploring websites that also do so.

So, “Here’s to you, Fat Lady.”

3 Replies to “Attributes – What are They?”

  1. That is so funny..children say the darnest things….\”OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES\”. Be advised Jennifer a few of us have sent emails for a contact number for your ladies and have not gotten a response. Hope to hear from someone soon!

  2. I agree that with the author when he/she talks about children picking out the most obvious attributes (people, places, things) and it is true that they are just simply making observations. At such a young age they dont understand what it means to be judgemental. My daughter, who recently started kindergarten this year, was asked by her teacher on zoom to look around the room and name some shapes she sees (because shapes are all around us) and my daughter looks around and I’m in the kitchen making my coffee and she says, “Well I see two circles on my mom’s butt”. Kids will say the funniest things.

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