# Posts tagged simple math crafts

## Playing Math This Week – Nov 7-13, 2011

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Learn about odd and even numbers this week on the Rocks and Roll Day. No need to stay Earth-bound either. To the infinity… and beyond!

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 7 – Feline Festival Day

Remember iconic numbers? See how many you can find on a cat. Hint – one tail, two eyes (or ears), three kittens are the usual size of the first litter, four paws, five claws… This might be enough for younger children, but see if you can find more numbers with the older kids. You can either take pictures of your cat (if you have one) or find pictures online for your Feline Iconic Numbers book. And how about building cat-themed real multiplication tables?

November 8 – Rocks and Roll Day

Go on a rock hunt, then see if you can tell how many rocks you found without counting them. This process of quickly and accurately estimating a number of items in a set is called subitizing. Hint – if your child doesn’t have much practice with subitizing, arrange rocks in patterns like dots on domino tiles and keep the number low at first (5 or fewer).

November 9 – Smokey Bear Day

This is a perfect day to draw a whole forest. Show your child how to draw trees by repeating a simple “v” shape (see our star tree above). As you admire the results, introduce a new word – fractal (a complex shape that is created by repeating other shapes). You can also play with Fractal Trees online.

November 10 – Math Madness Day

How can you limit yourself to just one game on a day like this?! If you are trying to start a new tradition of playing one math game a day with your child, this is a perfect day. Whatever you choose to do, enjoy it!

November 11 – Veterans Day

Take a look at some of the camouflage patterns. Then try to create your own by drawing interlocking, but not overlapping curved shapes, then coloring them in. Camouflage patterns are great examples of tessellations. Can you create (or spot) other tessellations?

November 12 – Dollars and Sense Day

Just counting money could get pretty boring after a while. How about playing a “money functional machine” game in which you create a mystery ATM out of a cardboard box. Your child puts a coin into it and gets a different coin (or several coins) back. You come up with a function, a set rule according to which your machine operates. Your child has to guess the rule. Once he guesses correctly, switch your roles and let him operate the machine. A rule can be as simple as “a machine that turns all coins into pennies” or a machine that “doubles the number of coins put into it”.

November 13 – Wampum Day

It’s a craft; it’s a math model – make your own counting rope as seen on the Love2Learn2Day. It can be handy in demonstrating and practicing addition, subtraction, and more.

So what games are you playing this week?

## Halloween Fractals

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If your child is all about getting ready for Halloween, then this can be a terrific idea to introduce some beautiful math. I saw this idea on Almost Unschoolers and immediately bookmarked it!

The idea is to turn Apollonian and Sierpiensky fractals into fun arts projects. To start, you can learn more about these fractals and download the printouts from the Apollonian gasket wiki page and this page about Sierpinski triangle. And if you don’t have a printer readily available, you can just free-hand it (here’s Vi Hart’s video to get inspired by).

I showed Apollonian gasket to my 4-year old earlier today and told him that it’s a mathematical pumpkin patch (again, thanks to Almost Unschoolers for the inspiration). He’s really into Halloween decor, but it has to be scary, not cute. So I told him that if he colors the print, he can make it as scary as he wants it to be. It worked! My otherwise coloring-books-are-boring son could hardly wait for the pattern to be printed out.

Some of the questions that we discussed as he started working were:

• Do you want to color each circle the same color or a different color? (Different)
• How many different colors do you think you’ll need? (A million)
• Well, we don’t have that many different-colored crayons. What can we do? (Color big circles red, smaller ones green, smaller ones blue and tiny ones yellow)
• Why did you decide to stop coloring? (Because the circles are getting smaller and smaller and harder to color)

As you can see from the picture, he didn’t make it to the green crayon although he worked really-really hard on getting the red and blue ones just perfect. But he seemed quite content with the results and so was I.

I still have the Sierpinski printout saved for later and another Apollonian gasket for myself to doodle on.

## Paper Plate Geometry

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Can your little one say “icosahedron”? He will by the time you’re done with this easy-peasy project.

It all started with me buying way too many paper plates for a picnic party.  After the party was over, I ended up with too many paper plates on my hands. I did my best trying to use them up in various arts and crafts projects, but unfortunately my son wasn’t big on arts and crafts at that time.

That’s when I came across this Paper-Plate Polyhedron activity in an issue of the Family Fun magazine. It sounded a bit advanced for a not-quite-3-year-old, but I decided to give it a try anyway, mostly because we had no other plans.

First, we counted out 20 plates – 2 sets of 10 and lined them up neatly on the floor. Then I showed my son how we were going to fold the plates. He was eager to try, but lost interest after the first plate was done. Fortunately, I discovered a trick to keep his attention – I simply talked through the process and asked him questions along the way:

“See this plate? What shape is it? Yes, I’m going to take this circular plate and I’m going to fold it. Guess how many times? Nope, not one. I will fold it 3 times. Now look, what shape can you see on the plate now? Do you want to try turning this circle into a triangle yourself?” and on and on it went.

If your child is more into doing things, then you can set him to work decorating the plates while you’re folding them. It’s just as I said, my child wasn’t much into art at the time.

After all the plates were folded, it was time to staple them together. I’m yet to see a 3-year old who doesn’t want to operate a stapler and staple everything to everything else. Well, this project requires so much stapling, that by the end of it your little one might get the stapling urge out of his system. And if he doesn’t, just let him put some extra staples here and there in the plates.

And so we were stapling… And I was talking: “You see, here we have to staple two plates together. We’ll need to staple these plates in three places – at one end, at another end and in the middle. Can you help me figure out where the middle is? Ok, now we need 3 more plates. Can you pass 3 more plates to me? Ok, so now we have how many plates? 1,2,3,4,5. 5 plates now. You see this new shape? It is called a pentagon. What do you think it looks like? Yes, I also think it looks like a flower…”

That was also a point at which my son noted that the shape wasn’t flat, but instead was “like a hat” and demonstrated how he could wear the pentagon like a hat.

We then made a chain out of 10 more plates. By now my son was a bit bored with the stapler and was playing with the “hats”, trying to fit them together. So I finished the chain and then called him over for a very exciting part – stapling the chain into a ring. Actually, I didn’t think it was going to be exciting, but my little one loved the transformation. So he played with a ring for a little bit.

Finally, we attached the first pentagon to the ring: “Look, Mama, it’s a bowl! It’s a helmet! It’s a dome! It’s a house like a dome!” I then attached the second pentagon to the ring to an exciting “Wow! It’s a ball! I’m going to bounce it”. He then tried to play with it the way he’d play with a ball – throwing, rolling, trying to bounce it.

Which gave me an idea to do a side-by-side comparison of the icosahedron with one of the larger balls we had. We checked which one was bigger, smoother, rolled better, bounced better and such. And we learned to pronounce the name of this new toy – eye-cos-a-HEE-dron.

All in all, what started off as a boring afternoon turned into a fun math craft and an even more fun icosahedron tossing game. The icosahedron stayed with us for several weeks and was played with many times.

Have you tried making geometric shapes and playing with them? We’d love to hear your stories.

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