Thursday, March 8, 2012

Jack the Builder - Building Block Activity

We have a number of the MathStart picture books by Stuart Murphy, and today we did an activity based on the book Jack the Builder.  This book teaches the American way of doing basic addition (start at the last number and then count by ones from that point), and since I'm trying to teach the kids the Japanese way (via the Rightstart Math curriculum, which teaches kids to view addition in terms of 5s and 10s), I focused more on the block-building than the math.

The book is about a boy who builds various things as he stacks up more and more blocks.  I think this is a terrific book, not necessarily for teaching addition, but for its message about using your imagination and the wonderful illustrations (we spent a lot of time examining each picture and pointing out different objects we found).

For this activity, I took out our wooden blocks and the girls tried to duplicate the creations the boy was making.  There are a number of skills involved:

1. Picking out the correct blocks by color, shape, and size
2. If the same color/shape/size block is not available, identifying what criteria to use to select an alternative
3. Using the correct number of blocks
4. Placing the blocks in the right orientation to replicate the formation in the picture.

Of course I let the girls discover these skills on their own as they worked on this task:

The towers crashed before they could build the spaceship at the end, so they used their problem solving skills to engineer their own spaceships:

We counted backwards from 10 and the girls screamed "Blast Off!"  Then, like in the book, the kids knocked the towers down and started again, building all sorts of creations from their imaginations.

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