Clothespins are some of my favorite tools for learning and this easy math activity uses them along with your child’s imagination and love of mundane adult things like hanging clean socks on the line. This number matching activity wasn’t easy for my daughter at first but after she got the hang of it it was a breeze. The turning point was folding the sock over the line and then she could pin it herself. This can be set up, played with and taken down over and over.
- Gather your materials. You will need some fabric paint, socks ( try the dollar store if you don’t have extras at home), some wired ribbon, marker, a basket, clothes pins and something to secure the ribbon to the wall.
- Start by painting numbers on your socks. I let ours dry for 2 full days… just in case.
- Write the numbers on your clothes pins. I did 2 sets one for my daughter and the other with simple equations for my son. He wasn’t into this activity “It’s kinda for little kids Mom.” so I will use this clothes pins for a “big kid” activity like this one instead.
- Set your clothesline up and pop the socks in the basket. Invite your little learner to hang out the wash.
- The way I had it set up originally required me to help her and it slowed things down and she was frustrated not being able to do it herself.
- So we switched things up and she was clearly thrilled.
- I took all the pins off and put the socks on the line folded over.
- Then she grabbed the matching pin and clipped it on. After that she was golden and quickly matched the numbers up. It took a lot of coordination to get the correct pin on.
These are simple learning games for kindergarten one focusing on breaking down syllables the other is math but they use the same materials from the dollar store. Learning After School at our house is all about doing quick and simple games that reinforce what my son is learning in Kindergarten. These lessons or games need to be fun, active and not too long. This isn’t homework ( he gets some very simple but useful homework) it’s in addition to it. What I love best about these activities is you really get to see how much your child has learned and while we play he will naturally open up and tall me about school.
- For both activities you will need a pen, some foam craft sticks ( wood would be fine too ) in rainbow of colors and green foam shamrocks.
- Start with the syllable break down by writing one, two and three syllable words on the craft sticks. You will want one word per rainbow color stick per shamrock. I had five one syllable, five two syllable and 5 three syllable words each. Our list was as follows 1: mop, mom, pan, run, son 2: color, garden, panda, super, open 3: umbrella, telephone, dinosaur, butterfly, elephant
- Write the numbers ( 1, 2, 3) on the different shamrocks.
- Play! Set out the words and shamrocks. Ask your child to clap out or breakdown the words into syllables and place it on the shamrock with that number. He was way faster at this than I could have imaged. Each shamrock has one craft stick in each color. My son didn’t need the prompt but had I been doing this at his age I would have welcomed the hint that the colors give without having to ask for help. If your child is struggling you can say ” Does the number 3 shamrock have a red stick yet?” * Also there is no shame in googling ” 2 syllable words” or ” How to break a word into syllables” as a parent it’s probably been years since you have clapped out a word .
- Adding in a little lesson about rainbow colors I had him place the words in proper rainbow order after he’d sorted them.
- This is when he said ” Ok now can we make it math?”
- So I flipped the sticks and wrote out simple equations. Again making sure to have one of each color matching the answer on the shamrocks.
- He loved this . He decided he wanted to write the answer on each which slowed it down but I was so happy since writing is still not his favorite activity but is something he is doing in class right now. He didn’t finish all the equations. That’s OK! 15 equations is a huge amount in one go . This game can be played over and over again .
Math is important and practicing facts and skills after school doesn’t have to be major undertaking. A quick trip to the dollar store and you can get all the materials for both of these activities that are easy to adapt as your child masters the material. These activities are not geared to teach your child the material but to practice facts they know for speed and accuracy. Yes this is the realm of flash cards ( go ahead and giggle) and the perfect example of when they work. Subitising ( recognizing amounts without counting )and addition up to ten are both facts that need to be recalled not figured out by the end of Kindergarten and practice like this is a fun way to do it. Do not worry if your kids count at first that’s fine and natural just keep playing, keeping it fun and practicing until they recall it instead of counting.
Clip In The Blanks
This is a novel way of working on a not so novel exercise. The clothes pins also add in a little fine motor work that children in the early grades can always use as they strengthen their skills for writing.
- Gather your materials. You will need some foam sticks ( large tongue depressors or simple cardboard will work too) , clothes pins, markers and a kiddo ready to practice.
- Write out equations that equal 10. Starting with 1 + _ = 10 up to 9 + __ = 10 .
- Write the numbers on your clothes pins.
- Set them out of your child. If you are just starting to work on these facts choose a few in order . Then next time move to all ten in order. We aren’t trying to get them to work it out we are trying to get them to respond automatically. Once they can do it in order easily mix it up the next time.
- My son loves math and quickly clipped them when they were in order. “This is easy.” So I mixed a few up and while he did it well it took him a little longer. As we play more it will get faster and faster.
Not all of these flash cards are working on subitising but most are. For those of you unfamiliar with subitising it’s the ability to recognize amounts automatically without counting. Tally marks, dots like on dominoes and numbers represented by hand signals are the most commonly used. These simple folded flash cards lets kids practice alone if they want.
- Gather your materials. You will need some sentence strips a marker and a kiddo.
- Write out equations, make dominoes or tally marks on the first third of the strip.
- Place the answer on the 2nd third and then fold. I made 14 for my son and he flew through them. I am making him 20 next time.
- Press the folds tight so there will be no cheating!
- Play. Clearly he thought it was fun . I was so happy to see that!
Even though we are working hard to practice I am still not a fan of drill drill drill so keeping it fun, novel and as positive as possible is really important. This side of math is my most hated and is what killed my joy for it as a child so I really want to make these activities as dynamic, light and interactive as possible so my son’s passion for math isn’t squashed.
This is another part of our learning after school series. I try to engage my son in fun things after school and when I asked him what he wanted to work on he said math. He loves math and comes by it very very naturally. His dad has a bachelors degree in engineering with a minor in math and a MBA in finance. Yeah numbers are well loved in our house . Even I love math although I didn’t always. It wasn’t until I was teaching it to students that I found the fun in numbers.
- Gather your materials. You will need a jar , some hearts ( any hearts will do – we used foam ones but paper, heart erasers, heart candies will all work), The printable found here and again below and a pencil with an eraser.
- Start by printing out the printable – click here or on the image for download. It looks grainy in the pdf but it’s clear when downloaded.
- Lay out the sheet, pencil and hearts and let your little math whiz at it. Of course this is more than just a math lesson. My son is working on writing numbers in kindergarten right now and this is my tricky way of practicing without making him write them over and over again. If the 8 questions are too much do 2 or 3 and put it away for a day or two and complete the rest after. Learning isn’t a sprint it’s a marathon so go slow if needed! He estimated, counted, sorted and counted and wrote some more.
After the holidays we packed up the kids and went to Disneyland. We had a ball and my already into princesses daughter is now officially obsessed. When I asked her what sort of craft she wanted to make she said “Princess!” so I grabbed a few simple materials and decided to focus the craft on shapes since we’ve been talking a lot about them lately.
- Gather your materials. You will need 2 sheets of construction paper , scissors, glue , sequins, googly eyes and a marker or two.
- Start by cutting out the shapes. I kept this so simple for my 2 year old because she likes to do it all herself and I want to encourage that. I cut out a circle for a head,2 rectangles for her arms, 3 small triangles for a crown, a large triangle for her gown and a square for her torso. Encourage older children to draw and cut out their own shapes.
- Time to call your little princess, prince or court jester to explore. My daughter sorted through the shapes labeling each one and counting them then I grabbed the glue.
- Glue! To give her a guide I drew the shape in glue on the paper. Older children could skip this. As you can see it’s still a big challenge . She was so excited when she found the correct shape each time.
- We turned the princess upside down to glue on her crown.
- Next up the sequins. I included these for a few reasons beyond their sparkle. They are small and challenging to pick up which makes them a really good fine motor skills building exercise. Also when I do something as structured as this activity is I try to make sure there is a completely free creative element to it. So I gave her the glue and let her at it.
- She needed a little help with the crown jewels.
- Add eyes.
- Add hair and a smile if you want.
- Let dry. She was very excited to show her Belle doll the princess she made.
Books About Strong Princesses
The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke is a tale about a princess named Violet who was raised with her 3 older brothers by her father after her mother dies in childbirth. Her brothers are trained to be knights and she to learns to joust , ride horses and sword fighting. Her brothers ( like most) tease her and tell her that she’ll never be as strong and it’s a maid who tells her that she won’t be as strong but she can be smarter. That message stood way out for me and is why I think this is such a great book. When her father sets up a tournament for Violet’s hand in marriage she takes things into her own hands. She shows everyone how she is smarter than all the other knights and with hard work trains to win her own hand in marriage . I love this book not only as a great empowering one for girls but also to show boys that girls don’t have to fit a specific mold either.
The Storytelling Princess (Picture Puffin Books) by Rafe Martin is a cute story about an independent princess who saves herself after a shipwreck and even though she ends up with the prince her parents had arranged for her to marry she does it on her own terms. Her bibliophile prince isn’t interested in an arranged marriage either and ends up agreeing to marry if his father can find someone to tell him a story that he doesn’t know the ending to. The princess saves herself from the sea and dressed as a sailor she ends up vying for the King’s prize by telling the prince her own story. After she reveals herself and in the end the betrothed fall in love . I love that we don’t loose the happily ever after but that the prince and princess are unique and strong .
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch has enchanted me for years. I bought it while volunteering as a leader in training at a day camp when I was a teen. It’s followed me to many schools, children I babysat and finally my own son. I can’t remember one child ever not liking it. It’s a story of Elizabeth a princess who outwits a dragon to rescue her prince. I love that the author has switched the typical damsel in distress and has the princess as the heroine. Some parents have expressed concern about Elizabeth calling the prince a “Bum” in the end of the book, personally I love it. I have always used it to explain why she was so angry, and as a reminder why calling names hurt. That said I think she is totally justified !
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen .This book is not so much about being different and facing adversity but about being yourself even if the world has decided you should fit perfectly into the mold it’s given you. When we think of Princesses we think pink, sparkly and dry clean only! These princesses can’t be pigeonholed, they do what’s in their heart not what’s expected of them just because they are princesses. The princesses have all different interests, all different looks and I love that there are some with glasses too. Strong girls being themselves isn’t too different but for a book about princesses it is and it’s refreshing to read.