Especially for Parents: Build, Provide Scaffolding and Build Again

Embedded in the Creative Curriculum® framework is the idea that the teacher’s (and parent’s) role is to observe children’s interests and how they are learning, then provide “scaffolding” to support young learners. This happens continuously so that children are always building upon their previous knowledge and understanding.

Two articles from Community Playthings illustrate this idea using the example of how children learn mathematics. The first article discusses what concepts children must learn to grasp the meaning of numbers and their relationship to other disciplines. Children build this understanding through the following (go to the article, referenced later, for definitions and examples of these concepts):

Counting and sorting in dramatic play.

  1. Small number recognition
  2. Classifying or sorting
  3. Patterning
  4. Ordering or serrating
  5. One-to-one correspondence
  6. Comparing
  7. Conservation
  8. Counting principle


The second article discusses how children learn mathematical concepts – through play and intentional adult interactions (the latter being the scaffolding). The article suggests that adults can support and extend children’s learning in math (and other areas) by:

Adding resources. Example: adding materials to promote exploration in different dimensions.
Subtracting resources (permission to hide/de-clutter toys!). At times, too many materials may impede learning; removing some can spur new thinking or ways of manipulating what is left.
Multiplying learning opportunities by seizing teachable moments. Article example: Children wanted to build a giant robot and had to decide where in the classroom it would fit. By using a measuring tape, the teacher associated a number with the physical space and introduced the terms “length”, “width”, “height” and “dimensions”.
Dividing materials. While EFC classrooms are arranged by interest areas, we enhance these areas with tools and materials that promote mathematical concepts.

You can read the articles referenced here at the links below, and check out our blog this month for a few more photos of mathematics in action in our classrooms!

“One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: Understanding Math Development in Young Children”
“Empowering Mathematical Minds Through Play”