Another child thought that each flower petal should first be counted in the vase and then the same number of blocks could be represented in a collection next to it.
After discussing the suggestions and ending our circle time, the children flowed back into the play activities. We noticed that many new children visited the flower activity and were quite eager to see if they could calculate the petals.
Some children represented the totals with blocks and then transcribed the total as a number on the paper...
...others placed the blocks on the pictures and then drew the flower with the corresponding number of blocks...
...and some created addition sentences after putting blocks on many pictures and wanting to discover a total number of petals in all the pictures.
One child spent a long time at the centre. I observed her play; she experimented with stacking and organizing the blocks in many different ways, finally arriving at the following arrangement. When I asked her to explain her work, this is what she said:
Fascinated by her work, I continued the conversation by reminding her of our work with the tree circumferences in our current outdoor exploration. I introduced the term 'perimeter' and helped model and explain for her that we could find the perimeter of any object including the two dimensional pictures of the flowers at the centre. This is the sort of beautiful evolution of teacher-initiated activities that emerge when children are able to manipulate materials freely and creatively in their own time and space. Educators who engage in playful experiences together with children can first observe, question, introduce and then scaffold more complex math concepts with those children who appear engaged and interested. Discovering the perimeter of the flowers certainly was not what I had anticipated doing with the initial flower invitation, but this is where I was led by this child.
She was quite eager to record her ideas and our conversation and independently shared her math thinking in a written format. Her idea to help explain to others the meaning of perimeter included drawing a picture of the flower and then writing numbers on it to represent the number of blocks used for the outline.