## 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.

This number activity combines  number recognition, counting and one to one correspondence. All preschool math skills that are the building blocks for learning addition, subtraction and more complicated operations. This activity is easy to make simpler by reducing how many bugs you use, and using smaller numbers.  If your child has mastered these skills make the bugs into equations. Write 2+4 on the bug and have them use the dots as manipulatives and solve the equation with them!

1. Gather your materials. You will need some black, red and yellow construction paper, a marker, googly eyes and glue. I also used a piece of cardboard to anchor all 4 bugs.
2. Start by drawing the outline of a lady bug on one of the colored sheets of construction paper.
3. Cut out all 4 bugs and glue on the cardboard, add smiles if you want!
4. Cut out black dots for the bugs, after step 5 you may need to cut a few extra out but I found it easier to keep the activity flowing than make my son wait while I cut out the exact numbers he chose. We had a few left overs actually.
5. Ask your child to choose a number for each bug. By letting your child choose the numbers it gives them some control which I am sure you agree is a great thing for preschoolers! Write the numbers out on each bug. If your child is able, have them write the number even if it’s huge and messy encourage them to try!
6. Add glue and the dots to each bug. Have your child count out the number as they add the glue. If your child needs some help with counting , do the glue yourself so your child is simply matching up the dots to the glue.
7. Encourage your child to count out loud as they add the dots, especially with preschoolers who have a tendency to skip numbers if they are counting out loud, you can intervene and encourage them to start again.  Use gentle corrections and lots of praise. By adding the dots one and a time this encourages one to one correspondence naturally.
8. After all the spots have been added to the bugs add glue for the googly eyes.
9. Add the eyes and let dry.

Need a book about bugs to continue this lesson?

Bug Books!

## 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!

## Matchmaker Matchmaker Make Me A …

Match !

Here are three variations of matching games that we have been doing and loving recently. They all reinforce colors but using ice tongs for one will help develop the all important pincer grasp , the bean bag game helps with gross motor and the egg one rolls in a Easter theme! Also counting can be added in to each for extra credit !

Pinching Pom Poms

1. Gather your materials. You will need a divided chip and dip platter or individual bowls. Some scrap paper that matches your pom poms, some tape and ice tongs.
2. Cut the paper into pieces that fit into the platters sections, leave the middle blank, it will be the starting point for the pom poms.
3. Place the pom poms into the middle
4. Start matching, if the tongs are frustrating them , have them do it with their hands.

Easter Egg Match

1. Gather your materials. You will need some cheap Easter eggs, a bowl for the eggs to start out in, one container for each egg( mine are old blueberry containers) and matching paper for each color of egg.
2. Cut the paper so they line the bottom of the small containers.
3. Invite your child to come to the table and start matching.
4. Praise and celebrate their success !

Toss & Match

1. Gather your materials. You will need some colored bean bags, and some colored construction paper. You could also use laundry baskets with colored towels in them for a target or anything that is obviously the same color.
2. Start tossing the bean bags to the target. Toddlers will probably walk up naturally but older children can be challenged to throw the bean bag from a distance, just pop some painters tape on the carpet for them to stay behind.
3. Start with just a few colors for little guys and work up to many for older children.
Have Fun !

## St. Patrick’s Day – Lucky Gold Hunt

I read on a message board that had posted my link that one mom was disappointed that I don’t have more non art activities, so here you go ! This is mess free, fun and so easy to make more challenging for older children , or easy as pie for the little guys. My son and I played this from the time he got up from nap until dinner was on the table . I have a feeling we’ll be playing it tomorrow too! Oh and if there is something specific you would like to see us try- let me know I am always open to new things .
1. Gather your materials. You will need some play coins, a marker and a green piece of paper. * For really little guys instead of the paper you can just use a change purse and simply have them hunt for the coins.
2. Trace the coins on the paper
3. Fill in the numbers, we are doing 10 coins but customize this for your child, more or less whatever works. Make it challenging but not impossible. Having the numbers offers up different options for how to play , you can simply hunt for the coins, and place them on the numbers. You can hunt for them then have your child specifically put them on the number you designate. I tried both and my son liked to choose which numbers to pop the coin on then count them and start over.
4. Hide the gold. Can you see it in my picture? Make it obvious at first, with little guys make sure it’s in plain view, the goal isn’t to be a better hider than they are a finder, it’s for them to find them feel pride in it, then tag on a little math too !
5. Go searching for the lucky gold .
6. Count your gold , and start again !