The children returned to the classroom from their art lesson and sat down at circle with me. When the
children were all seated one of my boys, Damien, said, "I want to play baseball with the red ball." He had
brought to school a baseball glove from home which he was very excited about. I explained that I did not
know where the red ball was, and that I believed it was lost. I then mentioned that I had some balls in the
closet and I would be glad to take the balls outside at recess time for the children to play with.
Upon realizing that he might actually be able to play some sort of baseball game at recess, Damien said,
"But we need a bat."
"Yeah, to hit the ball!", chimed in Krystal. [ Should I try to regain focus here at circle and try to get the
children to begin to listen to their mathematics lesson? Clearly this is something important to Damien
because he has been talking about this ball all day. It looks like at least Krystal is excited about baseball
"I don't have a bat for you to use." I said. [Testing the water- if the kids bite, maybe we can let this go on a
bit longer. If they don't bite, then I'll just bring them back to the mathematics lesson.]
"We need to get a bat!" said Briana.
"Ms. Sue (the gym teacher) has some in the gym with the balls.", added Jazmarie.
"I have a bat at home!", said Krystal.
"So do I! I have a bat too! I have one at home too! I have lots of bats!" chorused most of the children in
the circle all at once. [Well, testing the water has clearly demonstrated that now most of the kids are
excited about bats and baseball. This is definitely something that is compelling for them. But where can
this go? And what use is it?]
"Good, then we can play baseball at recess.", said Damien. [A-ha! Damien just gave me an answer. What
would happen if I tossed his statement back to him and pointed out the one big thing that he isn't thinking
about? Will he say, "Oh yeah I guess you're right, we can't play baseball." Or will he attempt to solve the
problem? And if he attempts to solve the problem, what will he come up with? I want to find out.]
"I think there might be a problem," I said. "If all your bats are at home, how can you use them here at
school to play baseball at recess?"
"We have to go get them!" Damien yelled, leaping up from his seat. [Now we are off, though I'm still not
sure where we are heading. I'm still curious about where this might go- can it go further than this? What
would be the best question to ask? Or should I drop this and bring us all back to the scheduled mathematics
lesson? Maybe I shouldn't ask anything- maybe I should give Damien a minute to think, or let the other
children respond to what Damien just said.]
"How would we do that? How could we go get them?" I asked. [He proposed a solution- 'we have to go
get the bats.' The logical thing seems to me to be to try and get him to develop his plan a bit more. Let's
see if he can actually do some problem solving. Perhaps his friends might come up with an idea. I wonder
if any of the other children are really paying attention? Is this just a conversation between me and Damien?
That's not good. That would mean there are eleven other kids here starting to get bored and restless.
Maybe this is something I should continue with Damien later.
"We have to drive home and get them." Yayelah answered. [Allright, Yayelah is with us. And she's moved
this one step forward. She's taken Damien's solution, restated it, and added a crucial detail- a mechanism or
a means by which to actually 'go get them [the bats]'. This is pretty interesting, because I can see that there
is some pretty serious thinking going on here. But serious thinking to what end? I'm still wondering how
to connect this to anything else that we've been doing in class. Can this relate to any lessons at all? Or is
this just completely random? Is this a waste of time, despite it being interesting? If it's interesting, it can't
be too much of a waste of time, can it? Yayelah's included a provocation in her statement, just like Damien
did earlier with his statement. How will the kids respond if I point out or highlight the inherent question
behind Yayelah's comment?]
"How would we drive home?" I asked.
"We can go in the car." Leilani replied.
"Do any of you know how to drive? What car would we use?" I asked.
"Mr. David, you could drive us!", Jazmarie
"I could drive all of you?" I asked.
"Yeah, we need to get the bats!", said Isaac.
"I'm not sure that everybody will fit in my car. Would all of you fit in my car?"
"Yes! No! Maybe! I think we could do it! Let's go!" chorused all the children.
"Hold on just a second. How many people are you talking about putting in my car?" I asked.
"Ten! A lot! Twenty-three!" shouted several of the children.
"Well, it sounded to me like you were saying everybody here needs to go. How many people do we have
here in the Yellow Room who would have to fit in my car?"
Five children jumped and started counting their classmates simultaneously, with much noise and yelling
and hollering over each others' voices.
After a moment, when several of the children paused to catch their breath, I said, "Perhaps we should take
turns counting. Anybody who wants a turn to count can try, but I think it might be easier if we go one at a
All of the children waited patiently, as every single one of them wanted to try their hand at counting the
people in the Yellow Room to see how many of us were present. It was interesting to watch some children
count only the other kids and not include themselves, while other children counted each of the other
children and did include themselves. Some children included me and Ms. Shepard, my paraprofessional, in
their counts, and some did not. Even the three year olds wanted to have a turn, and they gave it their best
shot, managing to count up to five, or seven, or nine of their friends.
When the counting was finished, I mentioned to the children that I had noticed that there were two numbers
I had heard several times , 12 and 14, as the results of their individual counting attempts. I asked them, "Is
one of these numbers, 12 or 14, the right number of people here in the Yellow Room?" Several children
raised their hands and said, "It's twelve, we have twelve kids."
Several other children raised their hands and said, "But you forgot Ms. Shepard and Mr. David. That's two
more. We have fourteen. There's twelve kids and two grownups."
I asked, "Are only children going to be in the car? Who is going to drive?" After a moment's discussion
the children agreed that Ms. Shepard and I would have to come along to help with the driving, and they
settled on it being necessary for 14 (12 kids and 2 grownups) people to fit into my car so that we could go
and collect their various baseball bats from their homes.
I asked the children once more, "Do you think that all fourteen of us will fit in my car? Do you know what
my car looks like? Do you think that taking my car would be the best way to go get all of your bats?"
"Maybe we should take a bus.", said Krystal.
"Why?", I asked. "Why would a bus be better than my car?"
"It's bigger, you can put lots of people into it. Your car is too small, I think we'll get squished if we go in
there", she replied.
"Yeah, your car is too small," echoed a few of the children.
"We should take a wagon," said Damien.
"A wagon? Do you think a wagon is bigger or smaller than my car? How many people could fit in a
wagon?" I asked.
"No, a wagon is no good! It's only got two seats!" yelled Jazmarie. "It's the smallest one. Even the car is
"I think we should go outside to my car and find out if all of us, you guys and me and Ms. Shepard, can fit
into my car together. Let's go test this out and see what happens."
We walked outside to the parking lot and stood on the sidewalk looking at my car. I asked the children to
take a good look at the car, then to take a good look at all their friends and at me and Ms. Shepard. I asked
them, "How many of us do you think will fit inside there?"
"All of us can go!" shouted Isaac.
"I think only three." said Briana
"I'm going to sit in the back," said Dayjona
"There's room for six kids. And maybe two in the front. Yeah, two in the front.", said Krystal.
After making certain to caution the children against pressing any buttons or disengaging the parking break
(!), I asked the children to one at a time climb into the car and sit down. After a few minutes of careful
maneuvering we managed to fit twelve preschool-sized children into a Toyota Corolla. After a moment, I
pointed out to the children that while they were all seated reasonably comfortably in the car, there appeared
to be absolutely no room left for either myself or Ms. Shepard.
After a moment the children began getting out of the car in as orderly a fashion as possible, and as we sat
down on the grass near the sidewalk, I asked the children,
"Well, we were able to fit you guys into the car, but what about me and Ms. Shepard?"
Krystal said, "Maybe we should go in Ms. Shepard's car."
"Do you think we would all fit in her car?", I asked.
"No," Krystal replied. "We can put four kids in your car and four kids in Ms. Shepard's car."
"But wait!", Jazmarie said, "That won't work! That's not all the kids. That's only eight."
After a few minutes of back and forth conversation between Krystal, Jazmarie, and Damien, Damien yelled
out, "Six! We need six. Put six in your car and six in Ms. Shepard's car."
"That's the way to do it," Jazmarie confirmed, "Then there won't be any kids left over."
"Okay," I said, "But what about me and Ms. Shepard?"
"You need to go in your car and Ms. Shepard needs to go in her car. Then we have seven and seven!" said