## Lab News Archive

• ### This is What Math Learning Looks Like

#### June 10, 2013

This is What Math Learning Looks Like
By Teacher Tom

As a preschool teacher, I know that there is no reason why math shouldn't be fun for kids.

After all, math is a process of learning increasingly complex and wonderful ways to do things that we like. When we boil it down, math is basically -- patterning, classifying, and sorting -- which is ultimately the foundation of analytical thinking.

We enter the world as mathematicians, exploring all the ways we can order our world and craving an understanding of the logic of things. We repeat our mathematical inquiries over and over.

Tom Hunter wrote a brilliant, simple song, which he later turned into a children's book, Build It Up and Knock It Down:

Build it up
And knock it down
And build it up again.
Knock it down
And build it up
And knock it down again.

Subsequent verses echo the same circular, two-step pattern, so familiar to the natural play of young children. Turn it on and turn it off and turn it on again. Pick it up and put it down and pick it up again. Put it in and take it out and put it in again. It might drive us crazy as adults, it might seem to us like they're stuck, but really the children are simply testing their formula and practicing it until it's second nature: A-B-A-B-A-B . . .

Young children in the course of their play, go on to discover increasingly complex patterns all around them. They use those discoveries to learn important things like how to take turns in a board game and engage in a meaningful process of many steps.

Play itself is impossible without the ability to think logically. That's why we're driven to mathematical play. These are things we really must know in order to satisfy our curiosities. There is no greater motivator than the prospect of discovery.

When we put blocks in a box or when we line things up, we are mathematicians discovering for ourselves the classifications and patterns of the world.

Math is a process of discovery and should be fun for learners of all ages.

The opposite of play isn't work, it's rote. ~Edward Hallowell