In a classroom at Scott Lane State Preschool on the morning of March 3, parents created small signs by taping index cards to craft sticks. On each sign, they wrote a different number from one through six. After their child threw a dice, they tried to identify the number on their dice on one of the signs. A lively energy came from Scott Lane State Preschool families as they learned new games during the last of the three training workshops for math skills development hosted by Read Santa Clara, the Santa Clara City Library’s adult literacy program.
“We got a grant from the Super Bowl 50 Fund and they wanted the money to be used for science or math projects,” said Ellin Klor, family literacy librarian and program organizer, working with Priya Mascarenhas, family literacy coordinator of Read Santa Clara. “An overarching goal is to help these preschool children gain the math skills they need for kindergarten. My goal is to have everyone in the family be involved in this. My other goal is to show parents how they can integrate simple arithmetic and math learning into their everyday lives. We want to show parents they can do fun activities with their children that are also learning activities. The last thing I want to show them is that they don’t have to buy expensive games or gadgets to learn.”
Each family received a complimentary math kit so they could continue to help their child build math skills at home. Items inside the kit included colored pasta in different shapes for sorting, playing cards, dominoes, dice and poker chips. A total of 66 Scott Lane State Preschool families received math kits at the trainings.
Another game Klor taught was a concentration game where parents applied stickers of various shapes to index cards. After turning the cards with the stickers faced down, parents and children turned cards up and back down again to remember the placement of the cards and to find matches for the shapes on each card. The purpose of this game was to help children learn shapes and improve their memory.
A rigorous play session wouldn’t be complete without a snack, and thankfully Klor and Mascarenhas came prepared with grapes and goldfish crackers. They worked the snacks into the learning activities. Families created different geometric shapes and three-dimensional objects with grapes and toothpicks. After the kids threw one or two dice, they identified the number they got on the dice and then counted the corresponding number of goldfish crackers they got to eat.
“This training is amazing because each parent can work with their own child,” said Laura Benton, a teacher at Scott Lane State Preschool who worked with families during the March 3 training. “All the instructions are given in Spanish or English. When parents open their math kit, the instructions are on top. Sometimes parents don’t want to do things in front of us. The way we address this is that we make this a play time for them and not something so academic.”