## Tally Mark Dominoes & Speed Racer Math Games

Learning after school at our house has to be fast paced and fun. These math games are both. They are also a cinch to make and frugal too.  Subitizing is the ability to recognize an amount without counting. It’s not a skill most of us were specifically taught in school but in recent years it’s been added to most elementary math curriculums. As the name of my blog suggests I am not a huge fan of flash cards but for some things that require automatic recall they make sense. Subitizing is one of those skills that requires automatic recall but flash cards aren’t the only way you can work on the skill. Games like these are great too.

Gather your materials . You will need some sentence strips ( using the back side) , scissors, and a permanent marker.

Cut your sentence strips in half. I used 2 colors but you don’t have to. Draw a line down the middle of each card and a tally mark on one side , number on the other. These should not match. Let the marker dry completely before playing.

The first game we played is a variation of dominoes. We placed one card on the table and split the others among the players. Then we took turns building by matching up the tally mark amounts to the numbers. The first person that had all their cards down won.

The next game was my son’s favorite. It’s a head to head speed game. Here are the instructions: Shuffle the cards. Place two down so the tally mark is facing the finish line ( in our case the end of the table) . Place the other cards in a pile face down and flip. When a match is made place it down end to end and keep going. The first person to reach the finish wins.

Practicing math at home does not need to be extra worksheets all the time. Make these simple games and you can play and practice at the same time.

## Bug Math Printable { Learning After School }

My son loves math. Adores it. What he doesn’t love is writing practice. So even though this printable worksheet I made ( a rare thing in itself) is a math review my goal was actually getting him to write and specifically to write smaller. You may notice that my son looks a little younger in this post and you are right we did this 6 months ago just as he was finishing up Kindergarten. He is a good student but handwriting has always been a struggle so to mix in a little practice with something he loves like math is a good way to make use of a little after school time. Homework may be all you have time to do and please do not push your kids to do more if they are given homework often or a heavy load. That is your priority. These Learning After School activities are meant for times when you have free time. They are short but worthwhile and hopefully fun!

Gather your materials. You will need a Bug Math Printable ( click for the sheet) , a pencil with good eraser and a kiddo ready to learn.

Go over the first example with them and then let them at it. I made this sheet specifically for my son. I included many easy bits but spelling out eight as well as how small the spaces were to write the answers were a good challenge. I am such a firm believer in balancing success and challenge to engage kids.

Review their answers. If something is wrong don’t correct it immediately. Instead say something like ” Does this one look right to you? ” if they dismiss it as right ask them to explain their answer to you or try again. As you can see I suggest encouraging “kid spelling” also known as invented or phonetic spelling. Allowing children to use their existing knowledge about letter sounds to construct words will help them become better spellers in the long run. When my son specifically asks how something is spelled I will ask him to try first and then walk him through it. Some words can’t be spelled phonetically but giving kids the chance to try is really beneficial.

Simple and quick little bits of practice pay off just make sure that before you do an activity like this that your child has a clear understanding of the concepts presented. I prefer to use independent activities like this for review and reinforcement. Worksheets are not my style of teaching and you won’t find a lot of them in my preschool materials. However for older kids who are eager to do short independent activities like this they aren’t a bad choice as long as they aren’t the only choice. For some outdoor math activities check out these ideas.

Need some bug books to go with the worksheet? Here are our favorites!

Check out these books about bugs with mini reviews of each here.

## Sight Word Game

It’s been beautiful here and I wanted to get outside for a little learning. This gross motor sight word game is fun and was a cinch to adapt to very different ability levels. My son worked on sight words and my daughter on letter recognition. When we played this the first time my kids were not very into it. It was almost dinner, we’d been busy all week , and it was just bad timing. A few days later we played again and it was a huge hit! Smiles, words being yelled out , letters flying into the pretend recycle bin… so I thought my reminder to myself would be a good reminder for you too. Timing is everything and don’t give up if an activity flops. Give it one more try before giving it the ax.

1. Gather your materials. You will need some ping pong balls, a container, sharpies ,and some painter’s tape if you want to turn your container into a recycle bin like we did.
2. Start by writing out sight words and/or letters for your child on the ping pong balls. A quick google search will provide leveled sight word lists for your child.
4. We went outside and I pretended to be a litter bug throwing recycling ( the ping pong balls) all over our yard. I really spread them out. The rule was that they had to call out the word/letter before running it back to the bin to clean up the yard.
5. Off they went!  They played well but the next time we played it was all giggles and rushing – you can tell in this picture that my son was tired . He hoarded as many balls as he could then ran up to the bin read them all to me and ran back to get another handful. The next time he’d find one, run it over and run to the next.  My daughter was overwhelmed with how spread out I made it. The 2nd time we played I kept them in a much smaller space which made a huge difference for her.

## Books About Recycling For Kids

The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Alison Inches is awesome!  The book takes the reader through the complete process from crude oil, to bottle and then to synthetic fleece. I am not too proud to admit I learned s a few new things and had a few good laughs along the way with the books little bits of humor too. I think most 5 year olds would enjoy this book, and it’s easy to break it down for those unable to sit for this much text.

Little Pirate: Why Do We Recycle?  by Innovative Kids is a really fun book about recycling with a pirate theme. Yes a pirate theme. Readers learn about recycling, composting and garbage along with two young pirates who need to clean up their ship. The pirates ask questions about different waste and the wise parrot fills them into the facts like the best bag to use while shopping is a cloth one, and what happens to the metal, glass and paper after we put them in the recycle bin.

Gabby and Grandma Go Green by Monica Wellington is another wonderful book from one of our favorite authors. In the book Gabby and her Grandma spend a day together  dedicated to going green. First making a great reusable bag and then using it all around town. I love that they go to the library and that is portrayed as a way to go green as well as a place to learn more about environmental efforts. Also showing ways to make a difference at the grocery store is perfect for young kids who are often tagging a long with parents on these errands. I can’t end the review without also mentioning the baby sibling who is sleeping in a sling at the end of the book , I love seeing baby wearing in books!  This is a great environment themed book that works all year round not just for Earth Day.

## Connect The Dots { Math Activity For Kids }

Adding in small but beneficial bits of learning into your children’s day goes a long long way. My son was in full day kindergarten this year and was really tired when he returned home. I still wanted to do fun educational activities with him but knew I had to keep them brief. A few days a week in addition to his homework ( which was optional this year ) we would do short activities like this math activity for kids. The key is that they are fun and don’t FEEL like homework. We don’t want to burn our kids out. You can find more of these Learning After School ( or summer camp) activities here.

1. Gather your materials. You will need some two sheets of paper, a pencil , markers and some painter’s tape. It’s also handy to have a window near by.
2. Draw any shape. I chose a rocket. Add dots along the shape .
3. Tape it to the window and pop the second sheet of paper on top and trace only the dots. Add in any interior lines too.
4. Add the equations at each dot. Make sure they are in order . They should start by equaling 1 ( 3-2 = 1 ) then 2( 4-2 = 2 )  and so on and so forth. Your child will connect the answers to the equations in order from 1 on. You could adapt this for other types of math like skip counting .
5. I wrote out the directions for my son to sneak in some reading too.
6. Start! This didn’t take him long but he loved it.
7. Color when you are done. My son is not a fan of coloring but I add it in with things he loves like math to try to make it more fun for him . Coloring can seem like busy work but it is great practice for writing which most kids this age need work on so don’t miss out on coloring.

For more great math activities check out my Math Is Fun Pinterest board.

## Paint & Read { and sound it out }

Two skills children need to master in their journey to independent reading are segmenting and blending sounds. Segmenting is breaking a word apart into individual sounds and blending is very simply the ability to combine the sounds together smoothly. When we tell a child to sound it out , this is really what we are asking them to do.  This activity was designed for my son who is a great reader but who will often read so quickly that if he encounters a word he doesn’t know he simply guesses and continues. If I ask him to sound the word out he will  still often guess and get frustrated at me for asking instead of slowing down and doing it even though he is perfectly capable of doing so.  I had to come up with a playful way that would force him to chill a little, slow it all down and focus on the sounds.  This activity can be adapted for any level even single sounds or sight words. We did a similar one for toddlers exploring letters here.

1. Gather your materials. You will need some white paper, white wax crayon, dark water color ( container is you need one) , a little water and a paint brush. I also used a clipboard to keep the pages secure while painting.
2. Start by writing out the words you want your child to stretch out. I used a book we’ve recently read to help me think of some words. Many of the words I chose were not a challenge to read , the challenge is to get him to slow down and stretch them out. For new readers you will want to do words like cat, dog, ball, map, off, snap etc…  but know that older children and more proficient readers can still work on this skill with more complex words.
3. Next I popped the black water color into the jar and added just a little water. To do this well you want a lot of color but not too much water .
4. I invited my little reader and explained that he needed to paint over the words SLOWLY and read as he went, then to read the whole word normally. I had to emphasize that the goal was not to guess the word after painting over the first few letters, that the right way to do it was to carefully say each sound then put the word back together.
5. The activity was an instant hit. It really did get him to slow it down and pay attention to all the sounds in the words instead of just guessing. I was happy to find a tool for him to keep working on these skills without making him feel like I was giving him a remedial task.  Quick activities likes this one can be thrown together easily with some really fantastic benefits to your child’s reading ability.