# Standard: 8A

Explore objects and patterns.

## Sequencing Our Way Outdoors

Autumn has flown by—and winter is almost upon us! Here in Illinois, that means cooler temperatures and wrestling with winter outerwear. But here’s the good news: Getting the children dressed for outdoor play is a great way to meet your early math standards. Outdoor play in the winter months includes snow or rain pants, boots, coats, […]

## lessons

In this lesson, children will create patterns using beads to string a necklace.

## Cereal Sorting

In this lesson, children will sort loop cereal such as Fruit Cheerios or Fruit Loops by color and then make patterned bracelets.

## Coin-Rubbing Matching Game

In this lesson, children will examine the attributes of coins to identify similarities and differences.

## Cracker Tangrams

In this lesson, children will use crackers with geometric shapes to form larger shapes on homemade pattern cards.

## Dinosaur Hop

In this board game, children collect dinosaurs of different colors as they count their way around the board.

## Dynamic Dominoes

In this lesson, children will be introduced to a variety of beginning math concepts using dominoes.

## Eating Up Patterns

In this lesson, children will sort by color and then create and extend patterns using Fruit Loops cereal.

## Fill the Carton

In this lesson, children will practice counting and number recognition using numbers one thru twelve, an egg carton and small manipulatives such as pebbles.

In this lesson, children will string the correct number of beads onto pipe cleaners. The number of beads will correspond with the number on the label at the top of each pipe cleaner.

## Hungry Alligator

In this lesson, children will determine if a number is greater than, less than or equal to another.

## Inch by Inch

In this lesson, children will use colored measuring worms to measure the legs of the heron in the book

## Laundry Sorting

In this lesson, children will sort “laundry” by color, size, shape and clothing attribute.

## Making Shapes

In this lesson, children will construct and identify various two-dimensional shapes using color-coded craft sticks.

## Measuring Straws

In this lesson, children will use pre-cut straws and match them up with a corresponding length on a piece of paper.

## Number Memory

In this lesson, children will match cards that display numbers with cards that display groups of objects that represent those numbers.

## Number Sequence Puzzle

In this lesson, children will assemble a puzzle using number strips in the order of 1-10.

## Odd or Even

In this lesson, children will differentiate between odd and even numbers by sorting numbers 1-20 into “Odd” or “Even” circles.

## One Duck Stuck

In this lesson, children will read the book and begin to recognize that each number is one more than the one before it and that a growing pattern is a pattern that increases or decreases by a constant difference.

## Painted Rock

In this lesson, children will use rocks numbered from one to 10 to practice sequencing skills.

## Patterns in Sounds and Shapes

In this lesson, children will listen to and recognize patterns in sounds, actions and shapes.

## Planes, Trains and Automobiles

In this lesson, children will graph the different vehicles that they scoop out of a bucket and then analyze their collected data.

## Probability Jar

In this lesson, children will examine three different jars filled with marbles and determine the probability of choosing various colored marbles.

## Remainder of One

In this lesson, children will arrange them 25 cubes into groups of two, three, four and five. The children will examine the different groups and learn about the concept of a remainder.

## Run, Walk, Crawl

In this lesson, children will measure the time that it takes to move quickly versus moving slowly.

## Shoe Sort

In this lesson, children will identify the attributes of shoes and sort the shoes by these attributes.

## Soft Patterning Fun

In this lesson, children will create and extend patterns using spoons and forks or counters from the math kit.

## Ten, Nine, Eight

In this lesson, children will orally count backwards from 10 to 1.

## The Tiny Seed

In this lesson, children will count the seeds by ones and twos and then put the packets in order from smallest to largest and vice versa.

## Uno

In this lesson, children will practice sorting not-number cards from number cards and develop their number sense by identifying similar numbers, one below a number and one above a number.

## Vehicle Patterning

In this lesson, children will use vehicle counters to recreate existing patterns and find the unknown within a pattern.

## What Comes in Twos, Threes and Fours?

In this lesson, children will be able to recognize, sort and differentiate objects in groups of two, three and four.

## What’s in a Name?

In this lesson, children will count, compare, contrast and graph the number of letters in their names.

## Which is Tallest?

In this lesson, children will compare blocks of different lengths and lay them on a graphing map in order from shortest to tallest.

## Who’s Hiding?

In this lesson, children will analyze the book’s illustrations to determine which animal is hiding. The children will use the partial data in a guessing/thinking format to figure out which animal is hiding.

## The Magic of Magnetism

“Look!” squeals three-year-old Eleanor.  “I can pick up these two balls! It’s magic!” Have you ever seen young children playing with magnets? The “magical” properties of magnets never fail to captivate early learners and spark a play buzz! Children learn by investigating, observing and figuring out how things work. Magnets fuel that curiosity in […]

## Geometry with Chalk Mosaics

“Oh, I like your mosaic, Avery!” says Claire, who has wandered over to look at the mosaic that Avery has just created with sidewalk chalk and tape. “Yours only had triangles. We did squares and triangles and those long skinny squares.” “Oh, you mean rectangles! I want to see it!” Avery exclaims. He jumps up […]

## Flower Power in the Outdoor Classroom

“Look, look! Come and see what is inside this flower!”  It’s a warm, late-spring day and our friends are scattered around the yard, discovering the new surprises that have popped up overnight. The flowers are finally showing their beautiful blooms! “Is it a bumblebee?” I ask. They look at me—their eyes big with wonder. […]

## Rocking through Early Learning Standards

Rock balancing or CAIRNS has found its way into our play again this week! Stacking and balancing rocks encourages math and science investigations that are always developmentally appropriate. My adrenaline starts flowing and a smile grows on my face when a two-year-old child exhibits an innate sense of how to balance many more rocks […]

## Playing with Sticks

If you’ve been fortunate enough to visit The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, or driven by the Arboretum on Interstate 88, you may have spotted Joe the Guardian, a 20-foot-tall, spear-wielding troll peering down at the passing cars from atop his grassy berm. Joe is just one of six towering troll statues created by […]

## Fort Building 101

“LOOK!” screams a four-year-old with such joy that we know this isn’t a garden-variety “I want to share something with you” moment. As the gang rushes to her side, they come to a complete standstill, frozen in awe. Oh happy day! Some kind souls have shared a fort with the community! There before us […]

## Nest Building is STEM Building

“I found an empty nest! Can we keep it?” Owen’s joyful discovery captures everyone’s attention. Three-year-old Avery comes running. “Are there eggs?” she asks her older and wiser five-year-old friend. “Can I see?” she begs. “Please let me see?” “There are no eggs, just an old nest. Can we please keep it?” pleads Owen. After […]

## Water Play!

“It works! The water is coming out!” Rokia cannot contain her excitement as the discovery of a full rain barrel adds a new avenue of discovery and learning for our week. “How did you do that? Can I have a turn? Get a bucket!” The excitement builds as so many little brains begin to […]

## Welcome to My Paint Party!

“Sally, look!  My rock turned purple!” Three-year-old Eleanor can’t contain her excitement as she changes the color of a rock with her paintbrush. Ah, the joy of painting rocks with water. Yes, water! I will be the first to admit that I really wanted to be the educator who LOVED paint and easels and […]

## Return of the Sand Gardens

“I found GOLD!” squeals Laura. Four little friends are quick to join her in the latest gold rush in the sandbox. In the wee hours of the morning, often when the sun is barely above the horizon and the coffee is still being brewed, gold will magically appear in our sandbox. Spray-painted rocks that […]

## Chalk Magic

“Vera, Vera!  Come see how bright the colors are in my rainbow!” Four-year-old Owen is ecstatic about his discovery of a colorful collection of wet chalk after a summer shower in our outdoor classroom. This happy accident has paved the way for a sensory adventure as we meet our math and science early learning standards […]

## May the Force be With You

“Look! The people blocks are in a line and they crash at the bottom,  just like when we play on the slide!” This is a lightbulb moment as Evelyn transfers knowledge gleaned from a previous play experience into her current hands-on learning. A chain-reaction domino fall during today’s block play reminds Evelyn of […]

## Squirrely STEAM Learning

“If the squirrel comes down from this direction, we can trap him under here!” yells Elliot. The playground equipment sits empty as Elliott, Harper and their fellow “squirrel trappers” congregate at the base of a towering oak tree in our neighborhood park.  The children have long been captivated by this venerable old oak, which has […]

## Rock and Roll

One bright fall morning, I notice that the noise level at Under the Gingko Tree is exceptionally low. A quick glance around reassures me that all of my early learners are safe and accounted for. Then I notice a quiet but intense play buzz happening in our rain garden, so I wander over to […]

## Frosty the STEM Snowman

“Look! The snow packs!  Let’s make a snowman!” Today’s sunshine and rising temperatures have transformed yesterday’s powdery snow into packable fun—ushering in an afternoon of playful math and science learning. These are the times when I love to pull out my camera to document the many foundation-building moments that find their way into our play. […]

## Finding STEM in Snow Play

After months of sequestering and social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19, we could all use some fresh winter air! Nature is just what the doctor ordered to stimulate our senses while we meet our early learning standards. The winter months offer an abundance of STEM learning opportunities, so don’t let the falling […]

## The Magical Field of Magnets

” Hey guys! Look over here! My magnet sticks to the bike!” On this warm November morning, our magnetic wands have brought STEM learning to our outdoor classroom. By leaving the other magnetic materials behind, I am hoping to encourage the children to harness their curiosity and creativity for other forms of magnetic exploration. […]

“Do our shadows look like the monsters in the book?” asks James. I glance over and see James and Noa connecting their shadows by overlapping their arms. When we engage children in outdoor shadow play to support active exploration and discovery, their creativity is endless! James and Noa are playing out their version of […]

## Finding STEM in Squirming Worms

“AAAAUUUUGHHHHHHH! Worms! Look, look! They are everywhere!” Eleanor is jumping up and down hysterically. Nothing will bring our crew running faster than a good worm sighting! Let the earthworm exploration begin. We love worms! Last spring, we witnessed an unusual natural phenomenon as a mass of earthworms wiggled out of their subterranean homes in […]

## STEM Building in the Window Frame

“AUGGGHHHH!” I hear screams, a crash and giggles galore. The joy of Magna-Tiles® has returned to our ever-popular window-stacking play. When these colorful magnetic tile mosaics come crashing down from the window frame, the children respond with laughter and joy. By contrast, the collapse of three-dimensional block formations often elicits groans and tears. Something […]

## STEM in the Bird Feeder

“I see the daddy cardinal, do you know where the mama bird is?” Four-year-old Noah, binoculars in hand, is busy counting birds in our outdoor classroom. Are you aware that the annual Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up later this week? This is a great opportunity to create a bird-watching station and knock out […]

## Rainbows, Sunshine and Superheroes

“Evie, come look! I’m a superhero! I have superpowers!” calls Jamie from the foyer. Curiosity piqued, Evie leaves her blocks behind to see what her best friend is up to now. “Rainbows!!!” Evie shrieks as she spies the colorful light pattern on Jamie’s wrist. Everyone within earshot dashes over to see the rainbows. And, […]

## Ramps, Inclines and STEM in the Great Outdoors

“Hey, Hudson! How did you do that?” Eleanor is amazed at Hudson’s success as he races a car down the ramp. This is the same car that she couldn’t get to stay on the ramp just minutes earlier. I listen as Hudson turns the car over and explains, “See those wheels? The front ones […]

## STEM + Beanbags = F U N!

I recently grabbed our dusty box of beanbags off of the top shelf of the closet and took the beanbags outside. We rarely played with them indoors, so what was I saving them for?  If a beanbag gets lost or forgotten under the plants and soaked in the rain, who cares? At least it […]

## Rainy-Day Block Play

Today’s dark skies and heavy rain have driven us indoors for what started out as a low-energy day. But now it’s even quieter—as in “too quiet.” I can feel my anxiety rising. But as I look around and see the children engaged in deep, calm block play—with wooden blocks strewn all over our classroom—I break […]

## A Small Whiff of STEM

“I smell cinnamon rolls!” exclaims Henry as he races through the gate towards our outdoor classroom. Everyone stops what they are doing to inhale deeply. “I do too! I want a cinnamon roll!” pleads Noah. My group is quite disappointed to learn that I am not baking cinnamon rolls this morning. The delicious cinnamon-roll […]

## T is for Teachable Moments

“Hey everybody! Look at all of the tomatoes that are ripe today!” shouts Jacob to the gang. “Can we eat them for lunch? Can we?” asks Lucus. “Can we eat them now?” pleads Elizabeth. It’s early September and preschoolers around the country are learning about apples, but we have tomatoes at our fingertips. The same […]

## Incorporating Math Into Your Cold-Weather Routines

It’s November and, here in Illinois, that means cooler temperatures and winter outerwear. Getting the children dressed for outdoor play is one more way that you can meet your math standards while engaging in everyday activities. Outdoor play in the winter months includes snow or rain pants, boots, coats, hats and mittens. Getting my young group […]

## STEM Play with Dominoes

“Hey, Evelyn!  Go get your cell phone and meet me at the stumps!” calls Noa. My head whirls around as I check the classroom to see if a cell phone has actually made its way into school today. Then I see Evelyn running to the basket of dominoes to get her “cell phone.” Whew! […]

## Full STEAM Ahead with Geoboards!

“Look what I made!” shouts Parker. Our moment of silent concentration and focus is interrupted by Parker ecstatically showing off her geoboard. “You made a house?” asks Linnea, looking a little wide-eyed and confused. “How did you do that?” “I just added shapes and it worked!” Parker answers, equally amazed by her own creation. “I […]

## Exploring Colors on the Light Table

As the days grow shorter and the slanting rays of sun that create our rainbows are replaced by clouds, we shift our energy to other forms of investigative play with light and color. “Saaliha, come play with me at the light table!” Nora calls out. Saaliha joins her friend and the STEM investigations into […]

## Baby, It’s Cold Outside

“LOOK! We have icicles!” “Can I have one?  I need one!” On this brisk winter morning—much to the children’s delight—nature has given us the gift of icicles. The children’s fascination with these frozen treasures leads to an abundance of “teachable moments” as we engage in some STEM learning while getting some fresh air and exercise. Soon […]

“Can you read it again? PLEASE?”  Frigid temps and gray days lead to lots of reading as we weather the winter season. As February unfolds, I am thrilled to present a series of STEM books guaranteed to educate, enrich and entertain early learners while the snow flies. It’s difficult to find books that balance exceptional […]

## Playful Math

“Can we play with those counting things today?” Two bubbly three-year-olds are standing in front of me with expectant smiles on their faces. I have absolutely no idea what they talking about—or what’s going on in those busy little brains, which I can almost hear whirring with activity. “What counting things are you looking […]

## What’s in YOUR Pocket? Collections in Early Childhood

Do you have collectors in your midst? Those young children who can turn a five-minute walk into a 15-minute treasure hunt? The children who fill their pockets with treasures and then load up your pockets with the overflow?  I love these kids. They can wreak havoc with our daily schedules, but they help us […]

## 3 Pigs + 1 Wolf = Math Play

“I think that wolf should go in this row, with the pigs,” protests five-year-old Harper.  “What? Why? He’s a wolf, not a pig!” insists Harrison. “And he’s not pink!” chimes in three-year-old Evelyn.  “The wolf will go with the pigs in this row for ‘Stories,’” explains Harper. “You know, like in that book, The […]

## Math, Music and Memory!

“Five green and speckled frogs…sat on a speckled log…eating some delicious bugs. Yum yum! I hear a chorus of young voices singing in our outdoor classroom as three young friends hold hands and frolic around in a circle.  When we sing counting songs such as “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” or “This Old Man,” […]

## Sing a Song of Sixpence

Whether you grew up with Schoolhouse Rock, Sesame Street, the Electric Company, Romper Room or Raffi, chances are good that you can still sing a counting song that you learned way back then. Ah, there are some really great songs from those days and many a Schoolhouse Rock version is being used to teach “skip counting” […]

## Math, Music and Memory

“Five green and speckled frogs…sat on a speckled log…eating some delicious bugs. Yum yum!” I hear a chorus of voices singing in our outdoor classroom as three young friends hold hands and frolic around in a circle When we sing counting songs such as “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” or “This Old Man,” we […]

## Smiling Boot Prints in the Snow

Today is one of those magical winter mornings when snow blankets the ground and clings to the trees around our center.  The sun is shining and the world looks so sparkly and irresistible that we head outside in spite of the freezing temperatures. “Hey! Who has the smiling boot?” Jacoby calls out to the […]

## Dice Are Nice!

A pair of four-year-olds in my classroom are happily playing “dice wars,” a simple but fast-paced game. To play, each child rolls a die and the player who rolls the highest number wins. No one is keeping score today—and nobody seems to care who wins each round.  I watch as Juan shakes the die between […]

## Geometry With Robots!

“I-am-a-robot!  I-can-do-anything!” squeaks Terrell in his best four-year-old robot voice. “Oh, I like that you used that octagon for your robot’s head,” says Michaela. “I am going to try that!”  We are deep into robot construction this month and robots are popping up all over our play spaces. We are constructing robots from clay. We […]

## Finding STEM in a Field of Sunflowers

“When we drive to school in the morning, the sunflowers are facing one way and when we drive home after school they are facing the other way. That’s because they always want to see where I am going!” brags Melania to the other children on the bus. “That’s not true,” grumbles Roberta, who is clearly […]

## Stacking Up Early Math and Engineering Skills

“We can’t reach the top to make it bigger!” says Rowan with a giggle. “Can we stand on this table to make our tower taller?” Linnea pleads. Four-year-olds Rowan and Linnea have taken over the front foyer of our early childhood center for some serious block play. This bustling area will soon be filled with […]

## Shine a Light

“Saaliha, come with me to the light table,” Evelyn whispers. “I have to show you something!” Hand in hand, the two preschoolers quietly make their way over to our light table. This darkened corner of our classroom never fails to mesmerize the children with its soft glow and luminous colors. As the days grow […]

## Risk-Taking, Math and a Hollow Tree

“LOOK!” Ellie summons us with such joy that there’s no doubt she has spotted something wonderful. Our eyes follow the four-year-old as she dashes to a very large, very hollow tree. A tree that is still alive and thriving—with an opening over four feet tall just inviting a group of children and their teacher to […]

## STEM Play With Pattern Blocks

“Hey, that’s cool. I like your guy!” says four-year-old Jaheem, peering over Michelea’s shoulder as she plays with her pattern blocks. “It’s not a guy; it’s a flower!” Michelea replies, tilting her head to try to see the “guy” that Jaheem is referring to. “That’s the stem and the leaves,” she explains, pointing to […]

## Mapping Fun for Young STEM Learners

Five-year-old Amelia—our budding cartographer—has captured the attention of every child in the room as she shares her latest map drawing: “You walk out of my front door and turn right. Then you go this way and you are at my swings and slide. If you walk out of my front door, turn left and […]

## Eclipse Party 2024!

“The birds are chirping so loud—I think they’re scared,” said Vera as she looked up at the sky with a pair of certified safe eclipse glasses pressed against her eyes. She was absolutely right! The singing birds—along with the chirping crickets and the barking dogs in the neighborhood—were louder and more intense than usual as […]

## Puzzles, Persistence and Play!

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice three-year-old Saaliha, who is patiently working her way through a rainbow puzzle. Her friends are busy in other parts of the classroom, but Saaliha is problem-solving her way to puzzle mastery. I sit down next to her to observe her learning style, and she is so […]

## Finding Math in a Field of Strawberries

“I’ll carry the biggest container,” volunteers four-year-old Matthew as the younger children fall in behind him. Picking strawberries during the first week of summer break is an annual tradition in our early childhood program. What better way to learn about counting, measuring and estimating than to get out in the fresh air and sunshine and […]