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Big Ideas of Early Mathematics


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Table of Contents



Chapter 1

SETS: Using Attributes to Make Collections

Chapter 2

NUMBER SENSE: Developing a Meaningful Sense of Quantity

Chapter 3

COUNTING: More than Just 1, 2, 3

Chapter 4

NUMBER OPERATIONS: Every Operation Tells a Story

Chapter 5

PATTERN: Recognizing Repetition and Regularity

Chapter 6

MEASUREMENT: Making Fair Comparisons

Chapter 7

DATA ANALYSIS: Asking Questions and Finding Answers

Chapter 8

SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS: Mapping the World Around Us

Chapter 9

SHAPE: Developing Definitions


Appendix A Big Ideas Charts

About the Author

The authors of the book are a group of devoted early childhood specialists working in the Early Math Collaborative (EMC) at Erikson Institute. Erikson Institute is America's only graduate school focused exclusively on child development and early education from birth to age eight. The EMC aims to improve the quality of early math education and ensure that young children are introduced to foundational mathematics.

The EMC provides professional development in early mathematics to nearly 100 preschool and kindergarten teachers each year. Our team works with teachers to bolster their math knowledge and confidence in their ability to teach it in fun, engaging, and developmentally appropriate ways. The ideas presented in this book are the result of a joined effort among the EMC team members over six years. They have been tested through our professional development programs.

Together, the EMC team has accumulated over 150 years of classroom teaching and professional development experiences. The team also possesses a wealth of knowledge and expertise in areas such as child development, curriculum design, the development of mathematical thinking, classroom assessment, children's literature, instructional coaching, induction mentorship, bi-lingual education, and research design, to name a few. Below we present brief biographical sketches of the team members who contributed to this volume.

Brownell, Jeanine O'Nan, (M.A.) Assistant Director of Programming for the EMC, Jeanine has extensive curriculum writing experience. She worked at the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education at the University of Chicago. While there, she revised the first-grade component of the Everyday Mathematics curriculum and authored Pre-Kindergarten Everyday Mathematics. Jeanine has many years of experience as a classroom teacher of first, second, and third grades. She also has mentored new teachers and worked as an instructional coach. Chen, Jie-Qi (Ph.D.) Principal Investigator of the EMC, Jie-Qi is Professor of Child Development at Erikson Institute. She has taught preschool, elementary, and middle schools in China and preschool and kindergarten in the United States. She has contributed to teacher professional development efforts for more than 20 years and received the Outstanding Teacher Educator's Award in 2009 from the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators. Jie-Qi has published six books and numerous articles. Her work focuses on teacher professional development, early mathematics education, school-based intervention, cognitive development, applications of multiple intelligences theory, and instructional assessment. Ginet, Lisa (Ed.D.) Assistant Director of Instruction for the EMC, Lisa has spent more than two decades as a professional educator in various positions, including (classroom teacher, child care provider, parent educator, home visitor, teacher trainer, adjunct faculty) in diverse settings (child care centers, elementary and middle schools, family resource agency, family child care home, community college, private university). In all her roles, Lisa has worked to engage children in active and meaningful learning, to support families as their children's first and closest teachers, and to involve educators in reflective dialogue to help improve their teaching.Hynes-Berry, Mary (Ph.D.) Professional Development Instructor and Team Member, Mary is a senior instructor at Erikson Institute. She has been involved in pre-service and in-service work with teachers and with young children for over 30 years, with an emphasis on early literacy, mathematics and science. She is the author of Don't Leave the Story in the Book (Teacher's College Press, 2011). Her background includes many years of using oral storytelling as the basis of curriculum in schools. Mary credits her work as the project director of Encyclopedia Britannica's Early Math project for her conversion to understanding foundational mathematics. She is the author of two books and several articles.Itzkowich, Rebeca (M.A.) Program Supervisor for the Project, Rebeca is a senior instructor at Erikson Institute. She has taught preschool and elementary school in Mexico, Spain, and the United States. For the past ten years, Rebeca has provided professional development to teachers in the areas of culturally and linguistically responsive teaching. As a member of the EMC team at Erikson, she has worked to help teachers discover a love for foundational mathematics and provided supervision to math coaches to inspire teachers to become more reflective about their mathematics teaching. Johnson, Donna (M.S.) Teacher Support Services Coordinator for the EMC, Donna has taught elementary math in a private school setting for a number of years. She has provided support to coaches and teachers to strengthen and deepen their understanding of foundational math. For over 10 years Donna has worked with parents, teachers, and child care providers in a variety of teaching and learning situations to promote the importance of creating a high quality learning environment for children. In an effort to further support parents and children, she has overseen an after school program providing group and individualized math instruction.McCray, Jennifer (Ph.D.) Director of the EMC, Jennifer is an Assistant Research Scientist at Erikson Institute. She is a former preschool teacher, with over 10 years experience in teacher training. Her dissertation, which focused on preschool teachers' knowledge of early mathematics, won two national awards-one from Division K (Teaching and Teacher Education) of the American Educational Research Association, and another from the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators.


"The simple, concrete mapping of the sequence of how children develop math concepts and skills makes learning, understanding, and implementing the ideas an easy task. The visuals to help explain the concepts are essential as well."

-Connie Casha, Tennessee Department of Education "[This book is] a remarkable addition to my Science and Math for Young Children course. At the end of the course, many students shared how much [it] helped them overcome their anxieties about creating math activities for young children that go beyond counting. My students feel much more confident about using new and appropriate language while facilitating meaningful math activities with children." -Nena Bush, Malcolm X College, Chicago

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