Monday, February 10, 2014

Combinatorics in Kindergarten {What Will Little Bear Wear?}

It's been a bit chilly here lately so the girls and I have been reading plenty of stories about cold and snow.  One of the stories in circulation this week is "What Will Little Bear Wear?" from the book Little Bear by Elsa Holmelund Minarik.  I threw together a fun little math activity related to the book. (It would also go great with the book Jesse Bear What Will You Wear? from Before Five in a Row)...

I drew a bear on a piece of paper and used three different colors of construction paper to cut out shirts and pants.  Then I made up a story about how Little Bear want to try to wear a different outfit each day for as many days as possible.  Then for each "day" the girls took turns picking out outfits (shirt and pants) and verifying that it was not a repeat.  I loved observing them work and seeing how they figured out a pattern for avoiding repeating outfits.

I helped them arrange their solutions in a matrix to make sure they found all possible answers.  Then I asked questions like "if Little bear could choose between a white hat and a black hat as part of his outfit, how many different outfits could he put together?"  (they needed some prompting questions to solve this one).  I had a really good time watching their little brains at work on this fun math activity.  One day when we really tackle combinations and permutations in homeschool, hands-on activities like these will make it a lot easier to visualize the concepts.

UPDATE: I was so inspired by how much my kids enjoyed early math "games" that I created the La La Logic Critical Thinking Curriculum for 3-6 year olds, which includes online brain challenge games, printable worksheets, enrichment activities and more!