“Infinity is not a number, it’s a concept!” exclaimed one kindergarten student. “What’s a concept?” questioned another. Over the past month, there has been a lot of chatter between the Sprouts about exactly what infinity is. I decided to take some time in math class the next morning to explore infinity in more detail. I found the perfect book, Infinity and Me, to get us started.
In the book, Uma is on a mission to find out what “infinity” means so she asks the different people in her life. From her music teacher to her best friend, each small anecdote adds up to a definition. Some examples from the book were a family with great grandparents, grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren….. Or a noodle that is cut in half, over and over, and over…
Infinity and Me had the Sprouts coming up with their own narratives of what infinity is. One student said “Infinity is like an escalator that you go up and down on forever” and another compared infinity to the lifecycle of a plant. After listening to each other’s narratives, students began asking what they would want to eat for infinity and if they had infinity “playtime” would it still be considered “playtime”? There was a buzz of excitement and questions in our K/1 classroom!
Moments like this, when an interest bubbles out of my class, get me excited as a teacher, and each year there is something different that gets the students engaged and passionate about learning. Working in a school that is student-centered gives the teachers the freedom to change and adapt our lessons to the students’ interests and needs. We are always listening and responding to our students and learning new things ourselves.
I know we have just touched upon what infinity means, but I am proud of the Sprouts for asking big questions and wondering about the world around them. I still hear conversations about infinity, “What is the biggest number you know?” “One billion”. “A billion and one, now it’s bigger!” I hope this conversation continues at home!