One of my resolutions this year was to do some sort of fun math activity with the kids each day. I don’t care if it takes just a few minutes or what level it’s at, just as long as math play becomes a regular and enjoyable part of each day.
So far, we’ve been doing well. One day I put out Cuisenaire rods for the kids to pick up and play with. Three year-old Alex wandered past and spelled out his name with the longer rods, and other kids made patterns and equivalents. Another day, I gathered the kids in the kitchen and called out square root problems, asking them to holler the answers out and try to be first. I also gave the kids imaginary shopping problems where they figured out how much they’d owe after taxes.
Here are my plans for this week, in whatever order they work out. Since we have such snow and cold in Minnesota right now, I figured I would work that into some of the fun.
- Get a box of sugar cubes (most Mankato grocery stores still carry these in the baking aisle by the sugar) and divide them among the children. Give them small things to measure in sugar cube units and show them how to figure out the items’ area by lining up sugar cubes along the length and width and multiplying the numbers, then have them fill in the area with sugar cubes and see if they get the same answer. Then have tea with sugar cubes.
- Tint some water with food coloring and fill various containers with it. Have the kids guess which containers hold more, and then measure. Compare tall, skinny, wide and oddly shaped containers. Then let the kids play at mixing the colors in the containers.
- Have each child guess the temperature outside and go see who’s closest. Subtract that temperature from the temperature inside to see how much warmer it is inside. Also check the temperature on the back porch, in the basement and in the refrigerator and freezer, and see how close they are to inside and outside temperatures.
- Sing 100 bottles of beer on the wall, the math version. Instead of taking one down, take turns singing out how many are taken down each time, and then as a group sing the answer. For instance, “95 bottles of beer on the wall, 95 bottles of beer… take 9 down, pass them around… 86 bottles of beer on the wall.” Feel free to switch out the traditional beer of the song for juice, milk, water or whatever your family chooses, of course!
- Give each child 25 chocolate chips. Ask them to figure out how many times 7 goes into 25 with the chips, with lines of 7 to show the answer. Eat the remainers. Then do it with 4’s, then 6’s, then 5’s and so on.
- Fill a measuring cup with one cup of snow, then bring it inside and let it melt. See how much water it makes, subtract the difference, and talk about why snow takes up more volume than water.
- Play War, but make black cards positive and red cards negative.
If you have fun math ideas to share, please add them in the comments!