Counting Collections

Do you have a lot of paper clips stuffed into a kitchen drawer? Or maybe a bunch of empty yogurt pouches you’ve been meaning to recycle? What around your house could your child count?

*Counting Collections* is one of my favorite learning activities — both in and out of school! At school, we have students determine how to count collections of objects (e.g. pom poms, artificial shells, novelty erasers, skeleton keys, etc.). Students figure out how to organize their objects, and then record their thinking in their math journals. Here are some photos of Driscoll kids at work:

UCLA Professor Angela Turrou explains counting collections in this video:

Originally published on twitter (@UCLAMathProject) on March 20, 2020

It seems pretty simple, but there’s some important mathematical work that’s happening there.

Angela Turrou, UCLA

A lot of the mathematical work comes from students deciding, *on their own*, how to organize their collection. Maybe they want to make groups of 2, 5, 10, 25, etc. Maybe they want to organize by color, or by shape, or into a long line. Sometimes, the organizational structure the student chose may impede them from arriving at an accurate total. They may lose count, or they may double count, etc. **This is an important step in the learning process. **Students need time to make sense of these quantities.

So let them explore! How many pieces of elbow macaroni are there in the box? How many toy cars are in the toy bin? How many rocks did you collect on a walk through the Arboretum? Estimate, then get counting.