One of the first books I looked through was Planting the Seed of Algebra, by Monica Neagoy. Glancing through the book, I like it for several reasons. First, it’s about developing algebraic thinking in Pre K-2. That’s huge in my book. Second, the book looks and feels readable. Does that make sense? It’s laid out well with lots of color pictures, graphics, and pop-out boxes. Finally, Chapter 1 hooked me!
The first chapter brings us into a Kindergarten classroom where the author, a self-proclaimed mathemagician, is performing a MathMagic show for the kiddos. First, since she will be using dice, she has a discussion about the dice themselves. She brings lots of great geometry into the discussion (cube, faces, etc.). As a side note, she includes some fabulously interesting historical information about how geometric figures were named. Did you know that hedron means an amphitheater seat in Greek? Back to the trick. She rolls the dice and tells students that she can magically look through the dice and see the number on the bottom of the dice. For example, in the picture shown there is a 6 on the bottom of the 1 and a 4 on the bottom of the 3. Can you figure out the trick yet?
Opposite faces on a die equal 7, so her lesson ended up being about combinations for making 7. What a engaging way to start the lesson! The rest of her lesson included charting the different combinations, representing them in part-part-whole tables, and writing equations for each of the combinations. In the next chapter, Chapter 2, she describes the algebra connections to the lesson, and I can’t wait to read it! It’s a rainy Saturday, so I might get the chance.
Finally, I want to leave you with a quote I love from this chapter that ties directly to the title of the book:
When teaching a lesson, much is exposure, stimulation, and thought provocation. I had no illusion that all students would remember everything. Far from it. But if I plant thinking seeds, students will go back and reflect. They’ll remember that a cube has six faces/seats (geometry), that a die has six numbers on it (number), and that there are six different ways to add top and bottom numbers on a die when it’s rolled (arithmetic/algebra). One day, these ideas will all converge and …”Eureka!”