Whole Body Learning in Lower School Math

October 17, 2022

Lower school math groups began the year with a mini-unit on place value. The 5th floor students in Greg Hill-Ries’s math group demonstrated a strong understanding of the concept. To help their fellow students, they built a kinesthetic learning tool for other math groups to use.

In the hallway outside the gym, the students constructed a giant Place Value Chart using floor tape. They created a color-coded frame showing the places from ones through millions. It even included the commas used when writing large numbers.

The Place Value Chart provided an opportunity for the students to engage in the kinds of hands-on, whole body learning that can sometimes be difficult to incorporate into math instruction. The students were able to engage in a variety of kinesthetic activities. Some groups had each student choose a digit and then share the value of their digit based on where they were standing. Some groups practiced multiplying and dividing by ten by creating multi-digit numbers. They then executed “times ten” hops or “divided by ten” hops. But by far the favorite activity in Greg’s group was the “Powers of Ten Long Jump.” Students competed with one another to multiply (or divide) their digits by the highest power of ten.

In addition to the chart on the floor, the students in Greg’s group created a wall display defining the term “digit” and made “Can you dig-it?” posters showcasing their own favorite digits.

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