Posts tagged simple math games
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 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?
Iconic numbers are often misunderstood in our classes. For many of us iconic numbers are so obvious, so… well… iconic, that we don’t pay much conscious attention to them. We all know that a motorcycle has 2 wheels. Which might explain extra attention paid to 3-wheel trikes whenever they pass us by (not too often).
So why even care about iconic numbers. The short answer is they help children develop their number sense.
Why Iconic Numbers Games
Working with a group of numbers as a whole is a prerequisite for building our number system, which is based on groups of ten. Grouping smaller numbers and using iconic numbers for easy recognition provides a scaffold for working with tens, and of course for multiplication.
Also, it’s rather fun to try and find all times tables facts in more-or-less iconic form. You might become strangely addicted to this game. Just try to find an iconic 3*5. One of the excellent suggestions we received for it was “fingers and toes of a pirate”!
Math We Make in This Game
- Iconic groups of iconic numbers
- Artistic times tables
- Pictures of ourselves with iconic multiplication
Iconic numbers, multiplication
- Bonus word - Unitizing is the ability to work with a group of numbers as a whole unit. Our number system is based on units of ten. Cards, dominoes and dice make it easy for players to unitize, because counters are organized in patterns. Iconic numbers help to unitize.
How to Play With Iconic Multiplication Tables
Look for iconic groups with the same quantity in each group. For example, the four seasons each has three months for an iconic 3*4.
Infants - Put up examples on walls or create your own book with dots or stickers highlighting what you count. Photograph the baby holding iconic objects for more fun!
Toddlers – If the examples toddlers find aren’t quite iconic, accept them anyway. You can sort the collection into more and less iconic pictures later. The point is to find multiplication, not to argue whether cartoon hands always have four fingers.
Kids - Older kids can create more artistic multiplication tables in the same visual style. They can go on timed or competitive photo scavenger hunts, with challenges to find as many iconic multiplication examples at a museum or a park as they can.
Adults – It’s actually pretty hard to find examples past five. Some people find the activity strangely addictive. Maybe you can finally find a 3*5 for the Natural Math collection!
Other Ways to Play with Multiplication Tables
- Story ideas: Multiplication stories often have to do with equal sharing. There are a lot of stories about fingers (iconic five), for babies. Psychology and biology have scientific tales based on their taxonomies, such as the 16 Meyers-Briggs personality types or the 4 dominant-recessive trait combinations.
- Can you find iconic addition and other operations? It’s harder than finding multiplication! Example: in Yelena’s family, it’s 2 adults + 1 child = 3 family members (you can find this on car stickers).
- Some kids like to relax the iconic requirement and make times tables out of their favorite object, grouped many times, such as 2, 3, 4, 5 evening primrose flowers for multiplication by 4. This is easier to do and still fun.
- Put your iconic numbers into a mirror book for instant iconic multiplication!
We love symmetry games. They are beautiful, engaging and are usually quite challenging. At the same time they are easy to play even with the youngest children. These games are also great when you have more than one child involved and with children of different ages and developmental stages in the same group. Besides, this particular game does not require any advance preparation. You can play it any time anywhere!
Why Symmetry Games
Children are natural symmetry seekers. They look for and are pleased to find harmony and balance that are usually associated with symmetry, whether in objects, people or sounds. This simple game will help them develop a more precise understanding of symmetry.
Kids love this game because it’s so much fun to mimic others. Parents love it because it’s so quick and simple to set up and can be played just about anywhere. Plus it’s a quick way to release tension and resolve conflicts.
Math We Make in This Game
- gestures, live sculptures
- funky photos and videos
- symmetrical dances
BIG Math Concept
BUZZ Words to Use Throughout the Game
- Line of symmetry
- Mirror image
- Dividing line
- Bonus word – chirality is a quality of a shape that is not identical to its mirror image. For example, letter “A” is achiral while letter “P” is chiral; a pencil is achiral while a glove is chiral.
How to Play Live Mirrors
Stand in front of each other and mimic each other’s gestures and expressions. That’s it!
It sounds so easy, but depending on the positions and motions this can be a difficult (yet fun) game. The difficulty levels can be easily adjusted for child’s age and levels of gross/fine motor skills:
Infants - let your baby lead and you follow by mirroring her gestures and facial expressions. Holding the baby in your lap, mirror someone else’s gestures with baby’s hands and feet.
Toddlers - choose large body movements or hand movements. You might need to position your child’s hands. You can also help (and add language development to the mix) by telling the story of your movements using math words, such as “up/down”, “left/right”, “forward/backward”, “front/back”, “sit/stand”, “in/out”, etc.
Kids - add motion (who doesn’t love twirling in front of a mirror!), try more complicated movements (rub your tummy and pat your head), invite more people to add more mirror lines, aka lines of symmetry. Play this as a break game in math activities involving symmetry of equations, functions, or shapes.
Adults - find finger positions or motions that challenge you at your level. Help kids who get confused by mimicking them in return, or gently positioning their limbs with your hands. Ponder why some motions are harder to mimic than others.
Other Ways to Play Live Mirrors
- Manipulate dolls, plush toys, or posable toys to play this game. Finally, a Barbie and a Transformer that teach math!
- Add objects to the game – give each player a ball, a hula hoop, a large wooden block, or anything that can be held, stood on, sat on or in. This can make the game more challenging or less, and will give you a chance to explain visually the “my right is your left” idea.
- Take pictures throughout the game. They are great for scrapbooking, and kids love to take them. Pictures can also be used to play more math games! Suggest to a child to cut pictures in half (here’s some counting math for you) along the lines of symmetry. Or cut them yourself and then play a matching game with the pieces.
Higher and Deeper
- Tessellations are based on similar ideas
- Spatial transformations, such as translations and rotations
- Coordinate method in algebra and geometry