Free math manipulatives are a good thing, right? It seemed like a no brainer to use festive fall objects in my November math centers… Until things took a turn! Read on to learn why you may not want to use acorns in your classroom with your November math activities.
1st Grade November Math Activities
My girls are in Kindergarten and are very excited about numbers and math. It’s so much fun to see them excited about learning! I created some November math activities that were perfect for the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.
These math centers focus on the following vocabulary and concepts:
- ten frames
- word form
- shape identification
- simple addition
- simple subtraction
I began by shuffling all the cards together and we sorted them using the category labels (dice, tallies, words, numerals/digits, ten frames). Next, they put the numeral cards in numeric order. Then I had them take the cards they had sorted and place each on top of the pile that showed it’s equal value. This activity allowed me to clarify any misconceptions and served as an informal assessment tool to guide future activities. These would be great for small group instruction during your guided math group lesson.
Later, we used the cards to play Go Fish with 4 sets and Memory Match with the ten frames and dice cards. Doing so gave me the opportunity to reinforce subitizing.
Since subtraction is new to them (and to keep with the seasonal theme) I gave them corn kernels to use as counting manipulatives. This gave me an idea… ACORNS!
I thought it was genius! Acorns are free, seasonal, and festive. Best of all, it tied in with my love of a clutter-free and organized classroom. When we were done, we could toss them back outside into nature. However…
I scurried to the park and frantically gathered nuts like a crazed squirrel because when I get an idea in my head it needs to happen yesterday!
While they were busy using them to solve equations on the turkey math center clip cards, I was glaring at my favorite candle holders.
They are shown here filled with candy corn and my Pilgrim, Wampanoag, and First Thanksgiving lap book project.
That’s when I had my second genius idea of the day… replace the candy corn with acorns for the month of November. Free Thanksgiving decor!
So this morning I made my son head back to the park with me before school to gather more acorns. We came home and emptied our pockets into an empty bowl we had used to hold candy for trick or treaters and went about getting ready for the day.
Not long after I was working at the table and kept getting distracted by a noise that sounded like scratching, popping and dripping. It wasn’t constant, but it was happening enough to drive me crazy. First, I checked the shower to see if it was dripping. Next, I checked the thermostat to see if there was something wrong with the heat. I made my husband sit in silence to try to identify it. This went on all day.
I tried to distract myself with work. I was checking to make sure acorns wouldn’t cause a safety risk to students with tree nut allergies because I had planned to put up Facebook and Instagram posts suggesting teachers use acorns as math manipulatives and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t giving a bad suggestion.
The good news is that no research has found them to be a danger to kids with tree nut allergies.
The bad news is I would’ve been giving a bad suggestion.
Luckily, I did not send thousands of teachers scurrying off to gather millions of acorns to put in classrooms across the country because I finally realized the sound was coming from the bowl. A second Google search about acorns for the day alerted me to some interesting acorn facts.
Or should I say acorn grubs.
That was my reaction too!
They are definitely not something you randomly want hatching out during your guided math workshop or in your decorative candle holders on the dining room table.
You can decide if you want to take the risk with using acorns with these November math activities, but at least you know the potential risks!