Posts tagged math games for every day
I am trying to teach my son a concept of positive whole numbers being made up of other, smaller, positive whole numbers. This has been a tough going so far, full of unexpected obstacles. There was, for example, the part where I tried to explain and show that although a larger number can be made up of smaller numbers, it doesn’t work in reverse and a smaller number cannot be made up of larger numbers.
An even more formidable obstacle was (and still is) showing that a larger number can be made out of various combinations of smaller numbers. Say, 5=2+3, but also =4+1 and even 1+2+2. And by showing I mean proving. And by proving, I mean having my son test the rule and prove (or disprove) it to himself.
That’s why I was very happy when I got a hold of Oleg Gleizer’s book Modern Math for Elementary School. By the way, the book is free to download and use. We’ve been building and drawing multi-story buildings (mostly Jedi academies with x number of training rooms) ever since. If this sounds cryptic, I urge you to download the book and go straight to page 12, Addition, Subtraction and Young Diagrams.
And just yesterday I found this very simple activity on Mrs. T’s First Grade Class blog, via Love2Learn2Day‘s Pinterest board. All you need for it is a Ziploc bag, draw a line across the middle with a permanent marker, then add x number of manipulatives. Took me like 2 minutes to put it together, mostly because I had to hunt for my permanent marker.
The way we played with it was I gave the bag to my son and asked him how many items were in the bag. He counted 8. I showed him that the bag was closed tight, so nothing could fall out of it or be added to it. I also put a card with a large 8 on it in front of him as a reminder. At this point all 8 items were on one side of the line. I showed him how to move items across the line and let him play. As he was moving the manipulatives, I would simply provide the narrative:
Ok, so you took 2 of these and moved them across to the other side. Now you have 2 on the left and how many on the right? Yes, six (after him counting). Two here and six here. Two plus six. And how many items do we have in this bag? Good remembering, there are 8. So two plus six is 8. Want to move a few more over?
It went on like this for a few minutes until he got bored with it. Overall, I thought it was a good way of teaching, especially for children who do not like or can’t draw very well yet. Plus upping the complexity is really easy – draw more than one line on the bag and create opportunities for discovering that a number can be made of more than two smaller numbers.
Math games can be played any time anywhere. Here are some ideas for each day of the week. These games require very little, if any, advance prep. Give them and feel free to change them to make math more interesting for your children.
November 28 – Spots and Dots Day
This is a perfect day to play subitizing games, playing dominoes or any board games that including throwing dice. If you have simple dot stickers and 3×5 cards, you can create subitizing cards. To make the game easier, keep the number of dots small and/or arrange them in an easily recognizable pattern (i.e. like dots on dominoes). For a harder game, increase the number or dots, mix dots of different colors and sizes, or place them on the cards randomly.
Quickly show the card to your child. Your child should have just enough time to estimate the number of dots, but not enough time to allow your child to count them. Then, depending on the age of the child, you can either ask how many dots were on the card or ask to show the number of dots on the card using some other manipulative (i.e. bear counters, beads, etc). For very young children, you can show the first card briefly, then display two cards – the first one and another one and ask your child to point to the one she just saw.
November 29 – Louisa May Alcott’s Birthday
Louisa May Alcott was a big-time journal writer. Help your child start a math journal. You can make it a daily tradition of making an entry into the journal. The questions don’t have to be from worksheets (although they can be). You can ask your child to build a pyramid with 6 blocks, then sketch it out in the journal. I love searching Pinterest for great pre-K and K math journal ideas.
November 30 – Mark Twain’s Birthday
Do you remember The Great Jumping Frog of Calaveras County? Let’s make cute origami frogs today. Origami is surprisingly mathematical. On the surface, it’s a lesson in shapes and symmetry. But as you start folding, you’ll notice a lot more math opportunities. For example, do you have to start with a square? What if it’s a rectangle? Can I make a frog if I start with a Post-It note square? What words should I use to explain each fold?
If you start with a rectangle of paper, you can make a whole family of proportionally smaller frogs and a leftover rectangle of paper too small for frog making. Ask the “what if” question: “what if we could continue folding ever-smaller frogs”.
December 1 – Let’s Play Ball
And after all the running around, you can explore a type of fractal called Apollonian gasket. You can print it out or draw it (get inspired with this video). Depending on the age of your children, you can ask them to decorate, trace or draw the circles. If you have a young child, you probably have a collection of balls of various sizes, from basketballs to tennis balls to marbles to pompoms. See if you can arrange this collection into a gasket.
December 2 – Map and Measure
If you are planning a holiday road trip, then get the map out and see how long the drive will be… in origami frogs from November 30th. Measure it on the map, then measure distances to other interesting points just to compare. No road trip in the plans? No worries! You can measure a room in jumping frogs, then create a map using these measurements.
December 3 – The Rule of Three
Today’s game is noticing the number 3 in your daily activities and surroundings. Record the findings in the math journal. You can start at breakfast with figuring out how many meals (not counting snacks) we have every day.
December 4 – Reindeer Day
Explore odd and even numbers by talking about Santa Claus’s flying reindeer. Can we tell, just by looking at Santa’s sleigh, if Santa has an odd or even number of reindeer? How can we tell? What if Santa had more or fewer reindeer?
Math games can be played any time anywhere. Here are some ideas for each day of the week. These games do not require any advance prep either. Give them a try this week and feel free to change them to make more interesting for your kids.
November 14 – Claude Monet’s Birthday
Monet would often paint the same subject at different times of the day as the light changed. Let’s create a color gradient collage today. All you need is a bunch of paint chips from your home improvement store. Suggest arranging different shades of the same color from lightest to darkest. Now try it with other colors. In case you don’t have time to run to a home improvement store, you can modify this game. Replace paint chips with liquid food coloring and give your child a dropper and several clear containers filled with water (glasses, clear jars or white ice-cube trays all work great).
November 15 – Children’s Book Day
There are quite a few wonderful children’s story books that go beyond basic counting and shapes. We are going to be reading Spaghetti and Meatballs for All by Marilyn Burns and Anno’s Magic Seeds by Mitsumasa Anno. If you or your child prefer to make up your own stories that include math, nothing beats another great book by Mitsumasa Anno, called Anno’s Counting Book.
November 16 – Talking Turkey Day
For this game you’ll need a marker, a piece of paper and a bag of bird seed. If you don’t have bird seed, a mix of 2 or more different pasta shapes or dried beans will do. First, trace your or your child’s hand on a piece of paper – that’s your turkey. Now, decide on a pattern, but don’t tell your child what it is. Let him guess which seed (or pasta shape) the turkey would like to eat next. Start with something simple, such as ABAB pattern. Then move to more complicated ones. Then let your child decide on a pattern and you’ll try to guess it.
November 17 – Bread Baking Day
Ah, kitchen is a perfect place for math! Let your children do all the measuring. Then let them experiment with estimating (i.e. how many tea spoons make a table spoon). The result is going to be some delicious math. And if you don’t have time to bake bread from scratch, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with picking up a muffins or cupcakes mix at the store.
November 18 – Mickey Mouse’s Birthday
Let’s watch a Disney cartoon today. How about this one – Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land (all three parts are available on YouTube). You can even try some of the math activities Donald tries during his adventure, starting with playing tic-tac-toe.
If you would rather stick with the Mickey Mouse’s theme, then how about revisiting November 14th idea of gradients, only using Disney Paint Chips.
Let’s start getting ready for the Pie Day!
November 20 – Pie Day
Nope, not the “pi day” which happens on March 14th (you know, 3.14). Instead, today is all about baking and enjoying pies! So why not do some more kitchen math. You can also cut a few pie shapes out of construction paper, let your child decorate them, then ask to share it with her toys (hello, fractions!).