June 16, 2024
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Early Childhood Students at WTA Get a Feel for Math

Why is it that some people have “a feel for Math”? Maybe because they literally got to “touch” Math. With the addition of some wonderful new curriculum, the students in Shorashim and Nitzanim (3s and 4s) at Westchester Torah Academy are now able to do just that!

Purposeful materials in each classroom satisfy the students’ need to move around freely, and to manipulate and explore at their own pace. Abstract concepts become tangible as concrete, touchable objects, which is especially important for Math.

Wooden spindles grow from one to a whole handful as the children fill the numbered boxes, leaving “nothing” for the zero.

Carrying red and blue rods across the classroom one at a time, with both hands on each end, lets the students experience how numbers increase from one (with hands almost touching) to ten, which is so long that some children can’t even quite stretch far enough to grasp both ends.

Similarly, with pink cubes and the brown prisms, the students gain a very concrete understanding of what an increase in volume and weight feels and looks like.

Of course, the children always have fun experimenting with the materials on their own. Students learn to count, sequence and sort by size, recognize numbers and other “hard” academic skills, but the goal is for children to learn so much more along the way: how to include friends and take turns, and how to move around the classroom carefully respecting friends who are engaged in their own activities. They learn how to concentrate, and how to complete a task independently. Creating a culture of respect (derech eretz) and collaboration, children put away the materials they’ve used to allow the next child a turn.

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