Monday, January 9, 2012

Mathematically Speaking Mondays: Snowman Name Graphs

A recent article in the Huff Post about math skills caught this reading blogger's attention. According to the article Kindergarten: Math Skills Prove Key to Later Academic Success, Researchers Say by Elenor Yang Su, the amount of math learned in kindergarten is a strong predictor of a child's future school success. This was according to a study of 20,000 kindergarten students conducted by UC Irvine education professor Greg Duncan. In fact,  math skills ranked higher than reading skills in predicting school success! Reading skills were second and were followed by social skills and study skills.
There is debate on how math should be taught in kindergarten and if children are ready for some of the higher level thinking tasks being presented in some kindergarten programs. In the article, the researcher responded to this criticism:
"I'm not implying that there needs to be flashcards and drill-and-kill exercises," Duncan said. He suggests teachers use math lessons that let kids explore and manipulate numbers. For parents, he recommends they point out shapes to their kids and play cards and board games to help them get comfortable with counting.

Here at Ready. Set. Read! I thought it would be interesting to share some ways to integrate math into your literacy time. Why not give your kids  jumpstart in both areas?  So each Monday, I'll be sharing a literacy activity that incorporates math skills.

This week we created name graph snowmen. We wrote each family member's name on sentence strips. Logan cut the letters apart. 
Then we cut the square letters into snowballs. Quick tip: A great way to teach your child to cut a circle is to give him a square and direct him to round off the corners to create a circle.

We had already painted some paper with falling snow by making prints from painted bubble wrap, so we glued our snowmen right to our bubble wrap prints.
We stacked the snowballs to create name snowmen. We finished them off with heads and hats. 

We followed up with a quick discussion of some easy math topics:
  • Which snowman is the tallest?
  • Which snowman is the shortest?
  • Which snowman has the most letters?
  • Which snowman has the least letters?
  • Do any of the snowmen have the same number of snowballs?
  • How many snowballs would we have to add to make all the snowmen have the same number of snowballs? (This was too hard for my three year old so we skipped it, but it could work well with older kids.)

My inspiration for this snowman letter graph came from pinterest and was pinned from

Here's where I am sharing:

Thematic Thursday


  1. Very interesting. I am not at all happy with our K math curriculum in my daughter's school. It assumes that kids don't know numbers at all. Luckily, the teacher is trying to do her best to keep math interesting even though homework is mind numbingly boring.

  2. I think math is SO important! My daughter barely does any math in kindergarten; luckily we do a lot of play that involves mathematical thinking at home. Love your ideas!

  3. Wow! My kids and I did this the other a different way. We wrote each name out and then charted separately the number of letters. This activity is too cut and I think I will do it to reinforce the concept!!! Love your bubble wrap snow prints too! Oh, I'm Sarah from
    Hi :)

  4. very developmentally appropriate and FUN!!

  5. Love anything to do with snow! Oh I just love your educational resources! I would love for you to share your stuff on my site via my weekly homeschooling on the cheap linky:

  6. Excellent lesson! I found you via It's Playtime and am a new follower. I have a new meme called Thematic Thursday and this week's theme is Winter/Snow. I'd love to see this post linked up. Find Thematic Thursday here.

  7. Interesting article. And what a great activity which includes so many skills.

  8. jeannine: waddlee-ah-chaaJanuary 12, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    We're always thinking alike! I guess it's the background and the philosophy towards learning. Tuesday we posted SIMPLE ways to integrate early literacy and math skills into a winter theme study. We did a graph with tally marks.

    This article is interesting! We love hands-on math investigations!!! However, with my Reading Recovery background, I've always heard much more focus on early literacy development. Taking a new look at early mathematics development intrigues me!

  9. Very well done, this is a very complete lesson and an excellent one. Thank yoi so much! Carolyn