Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Touch Math - PreK Program {Review}

My background is in education.  I hold a current teaching license.  I've spent 4 years teaching 1st and 2nd graders. I remember how my math class from college opened my eyes to how numbers work together (a groundbreaking idea to me at the time).  So, with all of this background why was it so hard to teach math to preschoolers?

2 years ago I started Little Adventures Preschool with a handful of children coming to my home twice a week.  Our math time was anything but consistent.  I bought a zillion books on math activities and things to work on, but each day was its own isolated math activity that didn't build on any previous knowledge or lead in to any big understandings.

Half way into the school year (in December) I decided to spring for a math curriculum so that I could feel confident that the preschoolers I was working with would be developing the math understanding they needed. I started asking all my teacher friends their thoughts on different programs.  Most of the programs started with a Kindergarten "level" and I didn't think twice about starting there until I looked through the TouchMath PreK Program.  Start with kindergarten?  What was I thinking?  There is SO much more to learn about math in the preschool years than I even realized!
Let's start with counting and number sense.  Not just rote counting, but being able to count objects with one-to-one correspondence (not counting to 10 while pointing to five objects).  Number sense is the idea that each number represents a quantity or a set of items.  It is logical that children need to understand the vocabulary of the numerals and that they represent a quantity before they memorize the written number.  Though logical, it was an idea I hadn't put into practice yet.  I love starting with the TouchMath PreK Module #1 because it sets the foundation for math understanding and we are able to continue working on it all year long.  It's easy to differentiate for young learners to match their current understanding.  Children who are working on recognizing sets up to 3 work on sets up to 3.  Children working on sets up to 20 can work on sets up to 20.
Reading "The Napping House" to introduce a quantity of 1.
Making Equal Sets
Identifying Ordinal Numbers (an introductory topic not meant for mastery)
Module #2: Comparing and Classifying is one of my favorite modules to teach. It always reminds me of the clip on Sesame Street where they sing "One of these things is not like the others". We compare items by size, length and color.  I love using attribute blocks for the module!  We increase our vocabulary by talking about locations of objects like "above the table" and "below the table".  We also have oodles of fun dumping out my silverware drawer and talking about which object doesn't belong (classifying according to type of utensil).
Running "Near" and "Far"
Which item doesn't belong?
I love how the TouchMath PreK program builds upon itself.  I no longer feel like kids are learning ideas in isolation.  Rather, they are building skills and will have built a successful foundation for future math skills.  We take the knowledge we've already learned in the first two modules and applying it to the next one: Module 3: Sorting, Classifying, Graphing and Patterning.  These very basic introductions start conversations and interactions with kids that get them thinking about the world around them.
2D shapes, 3D Shapes and Coins are all introduced in the TouchMath PreK program.  One of the aspects of utilizing the printed curriculum is that it came with Touch Shapes.  These are fantastic little shapes of varying colors and sizes that are sized perfectly to work with the TouchMath workmats.  Workmats are interactive printable pages designed to supplement lessons (150 workmats in total with the PreK program).  Along with the workmats comes a Module Guide.  I love the module guides (6 total in the PreK program).  They are clearly organized with pictures and complete instructions.  Even if you didn't know anything about teaching math to preschoolers you'd be able to pick up this program and do a fairly good job.   Workmats are divided into sections throughout each module.  Each section has it's own set of introductory activity ideas, sample dialogue and instructions on how to utilize the workmats with the kids.  There are also differentiated instruction ideas, real world connections, book lists, parent letters, and assessments with tracking forms. It truly is a comprehensive program that won't leave you with any holes to plug but gives you the freedom to tailor and create wonderful real life lessons.
Toward the end of the school year, in Module 6, we begin representing quantities with numerals.  I love utilizing the TouchMath Texture Cards in this module.  The 45 cards (each with its own texture and theme) display the numerals 1-9 with textured touch points.  They're so engaging!  We also love our Touch Numerals which are large foam numbers with base 10 dots.
I have loved teaching math with the TouchMath PreK Program.  I feel confident that it covers all the building blocks of math and sets kids up for success in future math programs.  I'd highly recommend looking into the TouchMath Programs and materials.  They've fairly recently come out with Homeschool specific versions of their programs that are downloadable files for single household use.  These programs are significantly cheaper than the classroom alternative.  They've really got their bases covered with a PreK program and homeschooling specific options.  Way to go TouchMath!
*I have been given the TouchMath Kindergarten Homeschool program in exchange for a review of the PreK program (which I purchased) and a review of the Kindergarten program in a year after using it with CJ.  All opinions are my own.  I truly believe that this curriculum is phenomenal and I look forward to utilizing the PreK program for a few more years in our preschool class and the Kindergarten program with CJ as we begin Kindergarten in our homeschool.

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