Teaching My Baby To Read

Home » Math » Making “5 Flowers”

Making “5 Flowers”

Organizing 5 in "flowers"; girly but effective.

Organizing 5 into “flowers”; girly but effective.

Teaching kids to visualize numbers instead of just counting is one of the hallmarks of Dr. Joan Cotter’s Right Start method, which is what I’m using to introduce math to my four year old daughter Jenna.

One of my goals right now is for Jenna to be able to look at a pile of objects:


…and be able to organize them into a pattern that makes them easier to quantify:


There are many ways a child could choose to organize objects: by color, tens, twos, triangles, etc.

A very old (and bad) picture.

A very old (and bad) picture.

A classic idea from Right Start Level A would be to be to give a child a bunch of tally sticks, and ask him to create fives and tens.

Unfortunately, Jenna could care less about tally sticks, unless there’s an actual popsicle involved!

Jenna’s a girly girl, and so I was hoping colorful square tiles would capture her attention more.  That worked, for a little bit.  Then I came up with the idea of organizing the tiles into flowers.  Now all of a sudden, Jenna’s really into it!

Organizing 5 in "flowers"; girly but effective.

We’re using square tiles, but you could use crackers.


The 4 + 1 combination looks the prettiest (imo), but all of the other combinations work too.  Jenna likes to experiment with all of them.  So by making “flowers” she’s learning about 5 + 0 = 5, 3 + 1 = 5, 2 + 3 = 5, etc.

One final thought, don’t be intimidated by our fancy math manipulatives.  Crackers would work too!


  1. Anne says:

    Could you give me a quick steer on a math curriculum? My little girl just started kindergarten, and I have to admit that I started kindergarten the year Sesame Street made its broadcast debut 🙂 So, I’m old and not an educator, but in looking at the math curriculum I’m a little concerned. It’s called Math Investigations. I did a little research and it seems a little “new agey”, certainly not the way I was taught math. Should I be concerned? I don’t want to be one of “those” parents, but I really hope my kiddo can obtain a math eductation beyond being taught to be a competent consumer!

    • If it’s “Dale Seymour” Math Investigations, than yes, I am familiar with it. With a teacher who knows what she’s doing, Investigations is a wonderful program. However, I would not describe it as “teacher proof”, which is a horrible term but means curriculums where teachers read verbatim from the teachers guide. To make Investigations really sing, a teacher needs to be well versed in Constructivism.

      Constructivst math can seem scary to parents at first, but there is a tremendous amount of research behind it. It’s also how I teach my own children math. I wrote up a “Math boot camp for moms” a while back, that helps explain further.

      I hope that helps!

      • Anne says:

        Not sure, it was developed at TERC and supposedly ties to the new Common Core State Standards. I am going to look at your math pages tonight, but you’ve made me feel better! This is a whole, new world for us. Next year she’ll be issued her own iPad mini. My head is spinning…

  2. […] Jenna(4) has been working on taking a large quantity of objects and organizing them to make the objects easier to quantify.  (See here for more info.) […]

  3. […] now our kit is stocked with Bob Books, money, an abacus, tally sticks, counters, a pad of paper and a pencil. This is enough equipment to do lots of fun […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow me on Twitter