When you’re working on math with younger children it’s really important to start with real things – objects they can hold in their hands and use as they play and work with mathematical ideas. They need to have a solid understanding of the concept that a written down ‘1’ actually means one car, or one block, or one bottle top. Using toys and other items as manipulatives is great to help them understand this, and adding in new manipulatives every so often keeps the math games fun and interesting. So today, here’s an idea for a really quick-to-make set of DIY manipulatives, and lots of ideas for how you might use them.
This week we decided to make a house -warming card for the girls’ aunt and uncle – a great way to play with maths and make some shape pictures! My daughter loved this activity and was so pleased to make something to give as a gift. And all the while she was happily creating her picture, she was learning all sorts of important maths and literacy skills, without even realising it. Here’s how we made our shape picture…
Make a house :: shape pictures [Read more…]
Welcome to day three of our special series that’s Just Right For Toddlers. We’ve already looked at sensory play and arts and crafts, and today our focus is on math games. All our ideas are based on learning through play and math is no exception. We don’t need to try and sit toddlers down at a table and fill in worksheets, when we can explore the same math concepts through games, play and everyday activities.
In these toddler activities we’re looking at learning to count and recognise numbers. We’ve also got ideas that explore shapes and measuring, matching and sorting.
Activities for toddlers : maths games [Read more…]
Here’s a kids art idea that you can try at home using recycled items that you’d otherwise throw away – we’re up-cycling and exploring texture to make touchy feeling patchwork pictures.
Kids art : exploring texture [Read more…]
Teaching children fractions is easy in the kitchen as meal times are when we apply fractions to our everyday lives. Whether we realise it or not every time we make sandwiches, cut up a cake or share out slices of pizza we’re using fractions. Here are some ideas you can use with children to introduce fractions in a fun and practical way, so that when they come to ‘learn’ fractions at school they’ll already be familiar and confident with the underlying principles.
How to Throw a Fractions Tea Party
- Make some sandwiches and cut off the crusts to make a clear square shape from your slices of bread. Help your child to slice up the sandwiches and talk about the shapes and fractions you make as you slice. Cut the sandwich in half to make two rectangles. Cut it into quarters and count the four smaller squares you have. Cut these diagonally into eigths and count the eight triangles you have made.
- Make a drink of juice and talk about how many parts of water and juice you need to mix together. Maybe you want to make half water and half fruit juice – measure out two equal halves and pour them together to make a whole drink. Maybe you need to use tenths and mix one tenth cordial with nine tenths juice. If you have a clear plastic bottle you can make lines on the outside with a permanent marker to divide the bottle up into tenths, to make the fractions clearer.
- Put your child in charge of splitting some fruit into fractions. If you have five people in your family your child is going to have to give everyone a fifth of a share from a bag of grapes. Let them line up five little bowls and put one grape (or blueberry or whatever) in each bowl, repeating until all the grapes are shared out, with a fifth in each bowl.
- Have some cake for pudding, cut into slices. How many slices do you have? How much is left after everyone has had a slice of cake – half? Three quarters? A third?
Including talk about maths in your everyday play and activities gives your child lots of opportunity to play about with concepts, so that when they come to study them in a more academic way they already have the beginning of an understanding of the principles, and they will feel comfortable and confident in approaching maths.
ABCs and 123s : fun learning activities for letters and math
All our favourite literacy and math activities, all in one place :: download our ABCs and 123s guide here.
Did you see the marble painting we did yesterday? It was great roly-poly fun and we decided that instead of just adding to our picture gallery we would use the designs to make a shape garland.
We had lots of chat about which shapes we would use and decided to stick with circles, squares and triangles, as the children would find them fairly easy to cut out themselves.
We went on a shape hunt to find objects the right shape and size to draw round and then we cut them out.
We used our fingers to trace round the outside of the shapes and count how many sides they had.
We did some shape sorting, making piles of circles, triangles and squares.
We talked about size and lined each shape up from biggest to smallest.
Then we used sticky tape to fasten our shapes onto thread and hung up our garland to decorate our room. The mobile looks beautiful as it twirls around.
That’s a lot of fun learning from one simple activity. How do you teach shapes to your children?
More creative math activities
If you’re looking for play-based exploration and discovery of math and science concepts, come and take a look at our Fizz, Pop, Bang! Playful Science and Math Activities.
And for more math-meets art resources, join my ART of CIRCLES workshop.