First-grade classroom keeps change

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The first-grade classroom at Sabal Palm Elementary School, in Jacksonville, Florida has come up with an innovative way to inculcate skill in math in students, using just a a cart filled with colorful pencils. Sheehan opened a classroom store to build student interest and make the learning process more appealing.

The writing implements are the featured 'sale' items in class teacher Eileen Sheehan's classroom 'store' and her students are eager to 'buy' a pencil. Sheehan, who has seventeen years of teaching experience observes that teaching students about coins by using worksheets was not effective. “Worksheets didn't go well,” according to her. “The pictures of the money didn't look like money. They weren't easily identifiable. And kids can't manipulate the pictures of money on a worksheet or actually buy something.”

Sheehan says challenging students to use certain groupings of coins to buy items from the classroom store is a playful and engaging way for them to meet state first-grade curriculum standards for learning coin values and equivalencies. It also focuses students on real-world situations that require them to apply the math skills they developed earlier in the school year.

“With the store, kids are counting by fives and tens, and then combining with ones,” explains Sheehan. “You can see them thinking, 'I need more' or 'I need less.' It helps them with addition and subtraction, and it makes them good problem solvers, too, because they see there are different ways to do it.”

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