We were in the Pacific Northwest earlier in the month to celebrate my nephew’s third birthday. I was in charge of after-nap snacks. The birthday boy wanted pretzels, excellent choice!! So, being the good aunt, I asked him how many pretzels he wanted. His response: a whole lot. So, I put 5 pretzels into the bowl, confident that the amount I had dumped into his blue bowl would be sufficient.
So, to further our conversation–in the spirit of Christopher Danielson’s wonderful blog, Talking Math With Your Kids–I added a few pretzels at a time. I wanted to get a sense of how Brady was thinking about quantity and to see how accurate my prediction of a whole lot was!! Each time I put in 2 or 3 pretzels, I asked, “Is this a whole lot?,” and each time, Brady’s answer was a resounding no!!
So those of you with little ones are thinking–of course he wants you to fill the bowl!!
We fit 11 or 12 pretzels in the bowl. If I had really pushed it, there was room for another 5 or 6 pretzels in the bowl. But, Brady was thrilled when the bowl was full of pretzels. So, now the interesting part of this…the mathematical thinking behind the understanding of the quantity: a whole lot.
Would Brady be content to have 5 or 6 pretzels be a whole lot if we used a smaller-sized container? Would he need more than 11 or 12 pretzels to be a whole lot if we had used a larger bowl for his snack? Is the relationship of the quantity a whole lot related to the size of the bowl? How critical a component is the size of the objects? What is the relationship of the size of the snack items to the size of the bowl?
Guess I will need to visit again soon and be in charge of snack to find out how Brady’s thinking moves through these ideas and to sneak in a few bowls of pretzels (and a snowball fight) with Brady and his brothers.