Monday, April 8, 2013

Found Math: My 1970's Kindergarten Worksheets!

Here's what I remember about Kindergarten:  A sweet boy named David with funny taped glasses, big ears and plaid button down shirts.  Round tables. A rug.  My teacher.  Being reprimanded for walking on the crosswalk lines as we crossed a street instead of inside or between them. (I was trying to follow directions but spatial concepts are still a little fuzzy at that age.)  A math worksheet with bumblebees that had to be matched to other things that I can't remember -- I can still clearly recall how utterly frustrated and humiliated I was about my confusion.

So, imagine my very special surprise and pleasure in finding five Kindergarten math worksheets my mother had saved with some of my early artwork.  And, yes, the sheets are mimeographed.

The first sheet, titled "Discriminating Difference" shows me not quite getting this concept, at first, but figuring it out by the last two problems.

In the second sheet it's clear I knew how to count. (Too bad they couldn't figure out a way to close that star polygon.)

This sheet is titled "Visual Perception - Pattern Comparison" with a great quote that certainly shows how much things have changed in the last 40 years:

"Kindergartners are not ready to read.  They are ready to remember and reproduce visual forms."

These last two are my very favorites because they prove (to me anyways) how my brain has been wired from the start.  Ignore the numbers.  Instead, focus on the color and patterns I employed and how my young brain saw the world.

I sincerely believe that children show you every day how they know and understand the world and that their 'output' can give you some incredible clues as to their strengths and their growth areas.  In this case, I seemed to have been very good at what I would consider math skills -- exploring permutations, design, symmetry, part/whole, and pattern.  And, what's more, I seem to have been enjoying myself!

I guess my biggest reaction to all this, especially the last two pictures, is that of recognizing myself in the work. I see my five year old self as having some strengths, but like many other kids, these were not supported or given outlet and guidance past kindergarten or first grade.  Given more support, a variety opportunities to explore mathematical ideas in multiple contexts, and a guide to help me name and analyze structural observations I made about my world every day, I probably could have been a great math student.  So could a lot of kids.

After finding these sheets it's apparent to me that I've found my way back to math after all these years using the mathematical strength I've had inside me all along. Seriously, I am really touched to have had a chance to visit with my young self.  I'm also glad to know that, despite the bumblebee trauma, I seemed to have enjoyed myself during kindergarten math time!


p.s. Here are a few images of how color and math still go together these days as we create and learn math at our house.

My daughters self-discovered "Map of Angles"

Exploring mathematical stars 

Factor trees 

Scissor Stories: Tales of Transformation

My kid thinking

Weaving inverses and multiples

Weaving Fibonacci


  1. OMG I love this post. Am linking to in on my blog.

  2. I am a SEIT working with a child who struggles with 2018 math, I no longer had my kindergarten math worksheets from 1970, I am going to try these with my little guy and hope that these help. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your post!


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