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Two students, S1 and S2, were at the play dough centre, talking together and creating objects.

E: I like your creation. Tell me about what you are making,

S1: We’re baking cookies. Good cookies. Do you want one?

S2: I’m hungry!

E: Me too! What kind of cookies are you making?

S2: Chocolate chip! My favourite!

E: Who are you making the cookies for?

S1: Everyone!

E: Everyone in our class? You are going to need some help!

S3: What are you doing?

E: I am glad you are here. S1 and S2 want to make cookies for the whole class. Can you help?

S3: Can I have the rolling pin? What size do you want?

S4: What are you doing?

E: How many are in our class?

S1: You have all of the dough.

E: How much dough do we have all together? How big are you going to make the cookies?

S4: If we use this [playdough container rim] all of the cookies can be the same.

E: How thick should the cookies be? Can you find something on the table that is the right thickness?

S2: This marker cap?

E: I think that could work. Your cookie, and this marker lid are both about 1 cm thick. S2, can you please bring over our can of rulers? How can we use a rule or a marker lid to make all of the cookies the same size?

S4: You could go like this [ S4 shows how to lie the marker lid as a non-standard measure].

S3: We have a lot of work to do!

Consider what we learned about this group of students. An activity that many would question as to its educational purpose (it does not look like an academic activity) became the catalyst for both a  teaching opportunity and as assessment opportunity for mathematics. By guiding the play and the conversation,  I was able to extend the mathematical thinking of this group of children and to document my observations for future analysis and evaluation.


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