The book provides a compendium of strategies and practical ideas designed to foster the development of young children’s conceptual, flexible, and creative thinking in mathematics.
The content includes: general and specific goals for learners, important readiness skills, procedures and ideas, number sense, spatial and measurement sense, and problem solving and game settings.
Detailed descriptions of activities are presented for each of the goals for learners. Authentic assessment strategies for observing, understanding and extending children's learning of mathematics are presented. Suggestions are made for accommodating different types of learner responses.
The book not only includes material that is age appropriate but the activities featured in this book also meet current provincial, regional and national standards for mathematics teaching, learning and assessment. The book is an excellent resource for those involved in home schooling, pre- or early primary school, early childhood as well as mathematics education.
Making Mathematics Meaningful implies fostering understanding and sense making. Understanding number or number sense and counting with understanding have nothing to do with the ability to recite number names, even if they happen to be in the correct order. Special readiness activities and problem solving settings are required to foster the necessary understandings and growth.
Visual imagery and visual thinking, components of spatial sense, are pre-requisites for being able to interpret aspects of the environment and are a necessary part of problem solving. Special activities and problem solving settings are required to foster the development of spatial sense.
Making Mathematics Meaningful includes activities, problem solving settings and games that have been collected over many years. The members of the collection are practical because they have been tried with groups of preschool children, with children in different classrooms and many of the tasks were part of several action research projects that involved young children. The collection is presented with a minimum of theoretical discussion.
Specific goals or learning outcomes for specific ideas, procedures and skills are identified. General goals are stated for problem solving and for games settings. Ideas for collecting and recording assessment data about understanding and growth are described.
Making Mathematics Meaningful includes ideas for questioning techniques and for orchestrating discussions that contribute to fostering visualization, thinking and flexible thinking. Suggestions are made for the use of documentation to provide opportunities for thinking about thinking and to advance thinking in young children.
Selected questioning techniques and the recommendations to accommodate all types of children’s responses that can foster confidence, risk-taking, perseverance, curiosity and imagination are made. Selected sample of actual responses from young children are included.
Making Mathematics Meaningful includes many examples for open-ended tasks and questions which give young children the opportunity for personal interpretations and they can learn new ideas through or via problem solving.
The activities that are described go beyond making important mathematical ideas, procedures and skills meaningful since they can also make contributions to language development, reading comprehension and to the development of evaluative skills.
Making Mathematics Meaningful is an excellent resource for those involved in home schooling, pre- and early primary school, early childhood as well as mathematics education.
Werner W. Liedtke is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He has taught elementary school and courses in mathematics education and assessment. His main areas of interest include development and assessment strategies related to key aspects of early numeracy.