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Benchmarks for Attribute Understanding

by Early Math Counts

On January 13th, the Illinois State Board of Education published a revision of the former Early Learning Standards- now called the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards. (Finally, they are including the word “development” in something referring to young children.) These have been presented in draft form, and are available for open comment as the state continues to consider feedback from early childhood professionals before finalizing them.

Over the next several weeks, we are going to look at the Standards and Benchmarks for each of the areas in mathematics.  This week, simply because we have spent so much time on “Attributes” I am going to review the exact Standards and Benchmarks for this one mathematical concept.

Goal 8 states that children will “Identify and describe common attributes, patterns and relationships in objects.” Learning Standard A under Goal 8 says that children will, “Explore Objects and Patterns.”

The benchmarks for this Goal and Standard are:

8.A.ECa – Sort, order, compare and describe objects according to characteristics or attributes.

8.A.ECb. – Recognize, duplicate, extend, and create simple patterns in various formats.

So, how do we know that children are meeting their benchmarks?  We look at the next section called “Example Performance Descriptors.”

Compare and describe various objects (e.g., describe different rocks by referring to their size, shape, weight, etc.).


Create a simple repeating pattern using classroom objects (e.g., build a tower of alternating blue and red cubes).


Replicate patterns in music (e.g., repeat a sound pattern by clapping or tapping foot lightly; sing a repetitive song such as B-I-N-G-O; play finger game such as Open, Shut Them).


Sort objects according to different characteristics (e.g., sort crayons by color and size; sort small blocks by shape and color).


Order objects in a series by a single attribute (e.g., order fire trucks from shortest to longest; order rocks from smooth to rough).


Is your head spinning?  Mine sure is.

For me, the most helpful way to sift through this information is to consider the smallest and most specific details and begin there.  You will see that until a child can recognize a simple attribute (one characteristic) they will not be able to do the rest or meet these benchmarks via these example descriptors.  Begin with what children know- and work up.  Don’t start at the highest or widest point and work down.  Children don’t learn that way.




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