by Judy Jurnack and Katie Holmberg
About once a month first graders do "Explorations" in math. They try to find the answer to something they did not know before, without being told how to do it. Explorations happen in small groups so that children may share ideas and help one another. They use manipulatives such as pattern blocks, geoboards, dominoes, base-10 blocks, weighing scales, calculators, rulers and attribute blocks. The purpose of the Explorations is to familiarize children with some of the materials they will use in later lessons. It is essential that children have time to "play" with the manipulatives before they use them in lesson activities. First graders love Explorations!