Gross Motor Math Game

This game was supposed to be done with beanbags, we were going to toss them into the shapes… but a classic 3 year old breakdown about not being able to do it perfectly lead to me adapting it. I didn’t give up right away, but when he calmed down tried again, did a fine job and STILL broke down into sobs I couldn’t decipher, I decided to change it. So instead I threw on some music , and went for it. If you have a child who likes to throw and isn’t in the perfectionist stage mine is very painfully in at the moment grab some beanbags and take turns tossing them in for a fun varriation.

1. Gather your materials. You will need some blue painters tape, a marker and paper. If you want add in some bean bags and music .
2. Start by making shapes on the floor with the tape.  We did square, diamond, pentagon, rectangle and triangle. Involve your child in this step by asking them to predict what the shape will be , asking them to count how many pieces or sides each shape has and to trace it with their feet by walking on it and pressing down the tape.
3. Here is where you can start tossing bean bags in – simply call out the shape and have your little pitcher throw it in.
4. Or you can do what we did and turn on the music , and have them find different ways to move while the music is on, and when it stops call out a shape for them to jump into.

1. To make a more challenging variation write out some numbers . My son is big into speed limits right now so we went for big numbers, I suggested smaller numbers ( 10-20) but he insisted so I took him up on the challenge. You could also use letters or sight words too, for beginners try colors! As you will see in the video he needed help for these big numbers, which isn’t a bad thing at all but if you are playing this with many kids you will want the game to keep moving to keep them all interested and the inertia going so use numbers they are more familiar with.
2. Pop the numbers into the shapes and play again. My intention was to have one number in each but my son wanted to put a whole bunch in the pentagon. Today was not the day to put my foot down . I wanted to play more than I wanted to force my specific rules on him.

Have fun remember that our best laid plans are often thwarted by our best loved little ones. I am glad i didn’t give into my growing frustration at his inexplicable meltdown and instead adapted the game. We had fun playing before and after nap .

Shape  Books !

So Many Circles, So Many Squares by Tana Hoban is a picture book that is all about shapes in our environment. There is page after page of pictures of daily life, food, signs etc… with the simple question of finding the shapes in the photos. It’s a great book to use as a launch pad into a shape hunt in your own home or around town and worth a few looks because you will be surprised at the shapes you missed the first time.

There’s a Square: A Book About Shapes by Mary Serfozo is a good shape book for preschoolers. Almost every illustration is made up of recognizable shapes and the text is made up of entertaining rhymes about the shapes on each page. My son thinks it’s funny that the shapes “Are sorta like people.” referring to the fact that the shapes are made into characters .

Dinosaur Shapesby Paul Stickland will delight you and your dinosaur fan. The book is geared towards toddlers and young preschoolers who are still mastering finding basic shapes.  A shape is displayed on one side of the page and then those silly dinosaurs are playing with it on the other. My son loves dinosaurs so even though he’s known these shapes for ages it’s an enjoyable book with fun text and adorable illustrations by Henrietta Stickland.

Learn On The Go Letter Hunt

Since my son was tiny I have pointed out letters, signs, colors… now that he is too big and I am too pregnant to have him in the Ergo we still play this game. It’s a simple letter hunt. Today we went for coffee ( apple cider) and found lots of letters along the way. The small pad we used fits easily in my purse and  also serves as a doodle pad if he’s getting antsy while we are out.

1. Gather your materials. You will need a pencil , a marker, and a pad of paper.
2. Write the alphabet on your pad with your marker. You can do uppercase, lowercase or a mix!
3. Go run your errands. When you have a chance find some letters. This sign was a gold mine!
4. Don’t forget to check them off your list.
5. A fun variation would be to take pictures of the letters, print them off and make a poster or book. Once my little guy is a little better with the camera we will be tackling this one.

Look and Find Books

Animalia by Graeme Base is iconic in teaching circles, you can loose yourself for hours in the detailed illustrations. The book is an alphabet book on steroids! Each page had a wonderful paragraph in each letter such as for the letter L ” Lazy Lions lounging in the local library.” The pages are filled to the gills with pictures of things that start with that letter as well. Parents and kids a like will fall in love!

Clay Quest Minis: Search for Shapes!by Helen Bogosian is a big hit with my son and me! I was lucky enough to have this book sent to me by the publisher because it’s already come in handy on a ferry, and waiting to be seated at a restaurant keeping my son happy and busy searching for shapes.  This book is an activity book that has a simple rhyme and request for the reader to find 2 shapes on every page.  The shapes are hidden in the adorable clay “illustrations” , really they are photographs of clay sculptures that range in theme from a spider web to dinosaurs to princess crowns and more. My son loves playing ” Detective” and what I like is that the challenge is just right for his age group 2-3 year olds. Younger toddlers will still enjoy it and it’s vibrant colors but to do it independently this is the perfect age.  I try to find negatives with books that are sent to me from publishers for review,  but I am having a hard time this really is a good shape book!

He Shoots, He Scores!

I like doing less structured activities in my Friday posts, not just because Friday is usually a free play all day kind of day for us but because as I have said before and will keep saying the vast majority of the day should be free play. Listen to them play, ask questions , look for learning opportunities but let them lead! This came out of our family obsession with the Canada Vs. USA Olympic Hockey game.  We took our son to the Olympics and we watched China VS Slovakia in women’s hockey and he is in love! He made this game up, I just polished it ( I added the tape for nets 😉 ).

1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper towel rolls, a ball, and some painter’s tape. You will also need an area that can be used as the ice. So anywhere with breakable things is not a good choice! We played outside on our porch, and in our foyer ( with breakables moved to the dining room first.)
2. Make your nets on the floor with the tape. If your child has more than a very very basic understanding of the game you can make creases, blue lines and a red center line too!
3. We kept our game incredibly simple. Get the puck into the goal. That was it. We played for what seemed like forever and I had to bribe him to go inside.
4. I like to use games like this to promote sportsmanship and was delighted to see my son get as excited when I got a goal as when he did!

Have fun and now that weather is getting nicer – get outside even if you are still in your PJs !

Number Match Game

Numbers are a big deal around here right now. What we liked about math game was that even though we made it a little complicated, you could easily simplify it for even younger kids ( simply write numbers out and have them find the ones you call out)or more challenging for older more advanced mathematicians. (Have them find 2 at a time and add together).  Our goal for numbers right now is to work on counting things to discover the amount and match that amount with the numbers he already recognizes. If your child’s goal is different adjust as needed!

1. Gather your materials. You will need some different colored paper, a marker , scissors ( we actually ripped the paper) and some floor space.
2. Start by folding your paper in 4, so that 2 numbers will both be that color. This just makes it easier, I am using the colors as a clue to help my son but not give away the answer either.
3. Write numbers in one square and make the corresponding amount of drawings in the other.
4. Cut or rip apart.
5. Place either the papers with the numbers or the ones with the numbers around in a circle face up.
6. Fan out the others in your hand and invite your child to choose one by asking for the color.
7. Hand it to them, if it’s a number ask them to identify it and find it’s match. For the lower numbers my son grabbed the right one immediately, for larger ones he would grab the matching colors then we would count them together to discover which was the correct match. I had to help him touch each star on the larger numbers so that he wouldn’t count them twice, this just takes time and good modeling so don’t get frustrated or worried if your child does hit, just lead by example.
8. We played the game 2 times once with the numbers in the circle , once with the stars in the circle – learning is hard work, so we had to pretend to be a clock after!

Books

Museum 123 by The Metropolitan Museum Of Art is another simple but beautiful counting book.  What I love about this book is that the number is not on the same page as the onbjects/images the child is being asked to count. Instead a simple question of how many is followed by a painting with the objects, and the next page has a large number. My son loved counting then flipping the page exclaiming ” I knew it , I said that number I was right!” My only complaint is that it only went to 10!

Construction Countdown by K.C Olson is a counting book that uses backhoes, dump trucks and cement mixers among other things to count. Before I even closed the book my son was signing for more. I read it 4 times since getting it out of the library today. A huge hit here!

Edited for 2010 : I wrote that review nearly 2 years ago. The other day at the library my son grabbed the book and begged to read it again. At 3 he still loved the book and I still give it a huge thumbs up!

One, Two, Three by Tom Slaughter is super simple, bold, bright and a great counting book!  These aren’t complex books, pictures matter because they should encourage the reader to want to count and connect the number they have counted with the number printed on the page.  I would happily recommend this book to families with babies through preschoolers , my 3 year old loved it and partly because he read all the pictures and numbers himself!

When I bought these beads I was trying to decide what to make with them , and inspiration struck today. We are going up to cheer for Canada and the USA at the Olympics and decided to make some jewelry for the occasion. Beading was not easy and my son only did a bit, I wasn’t expecting him to do any this is an activity for 5 and up although as you can see younger kids can help! For a great activity for younger ones scroll down!

1. Gather your materials. You will need some pipe cleaners ( in the country’s colors you are supporting), and some alphabet beads.
2. Start by searching for the letters. I didn’t ask my son to come help since my plan was for this to be an older child activity, but he came and helped!
4. Thread on!  I threaded all the of the beads on and separated the pipe cleaners to make it fancy 😉 For the USA one I threaded the USA on a single pipe cleaner and the hearts on both.
5. Wrap the ends to make your bracelet.

Uppercase Lowercase Match!

Games don’t have to be complicated to be fun. This alphabet game is super simple but easy make and fun to play.  The beads are uppercase letters so to make it more challenging for my son who knows his letters, I used lowercase letters in the tin. You could use uppercase letters for beginners or even spell simple sight words for more advanced learners.

1. Gather your materials. You will need alphabet letter beads, a muffin tin, some paper, a marker , tape and scissors or a circular paper punch.
2. Write out the letters on the paper.
3. Punch them out.
4. Tape into the tin.
5. Call your sorting superstar to the table! And have fun, it is a game after all!

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