Digital Algebra

Are kindergarteners/pre-schoolers really expected to do algebra? Believe it or not, they are!

Before you start getting nervous, know this: kindergarten,or pre-school, algebra is quite different to what you did in high school. In the world of kindergarten or pre-school, algebra means putting like things into groups, or noticing what doesn’t belong in a set – even shapes such as triangles versus squares.

Being able to identify, sort, and classify objects by their common attributes is an important kindergarten/pre-school standard.

Want to make it fun? Grab your camera, put on your walking shoes, and get ready for some algebra on the fly.



What You Need:

*A digital camera

What You Do:

Give Your Child the Camera: Tell them to chose five objects, and take a picture of each one, separately. Lots of objects make good subjects – toys, book, articles of clothing, or even siblings! You can give a few suggestions to get your child started, but once she gets the hang of it, try to interfere as little as possible.

Take the Adventure Outside: This is where it can get really interesting. Send your child to the back yard and let them take the lead as they take photographs of plants, insects, and garden tools. Walk around the neighborhood, taking pictures of family and friends along the way (with permission, of course).

Print and Talk: After your child has taken about 15-20 pictures, it’s time to print! When you have printed one copy of each picture, ask your child to talk to you about the items in each photo, and why they chose to take pictures of them. Ask open-ended questions such as, “What do you notice about this picture?”, rather than directed questions like, “What is this?” This will give them the opportunity to express their thoughts, and begin noticing things that are the same or different in the pictures.

The Algebra: Now for the algebra! Find two pictures with a similar attribute and ask your child if they can tell you what the two pictures have in common. For example, they might both be toys, or they might be the same colour. Ask your child if they can find any more pictures that belong in the group.

Continue playing this game, until all the objects have been sorted into one or more groups. If there’s a picture that does not fit into any group, ask what other objects might fit with it. For example, what other things are the same type, the same colour, the same size? Finally, talk about how the groups relate to each other – another important algebraic concept that pre-schoolers explore in the classroom.

Let your child tuck their library of pictures into a photo book or hang them on their bedroom wall. Mission accomplished!

Not only did you boost your child’s mathematical skills but, you’ve also helped to lay the groundwork for good algebraic thinking. And who knows, you may have planted another seed, too – they may just might become a photojournalist some day!

Cath Jenkin

As a mom, Cath raises her daughter with a strong focus on technology, as she believes that digital literacy is as important as learning to read. With a long history of creating content for online and print publications, and in particular as a parenting columnist, Cath brings her curious mind... Read more

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