Kids love using keys and learning is more fun with something you love to play with . This math activity is a cinch to prepare and as you will see fun even when it gets challenging. You can easily customize it for any level of math ability or even just let let them try to find the right key without any numbers which is great fine motor skill practice.
- Gather your materials. You will need some peel and stick labels, a marker, and some locks with matching keys.
- I wrote out the words , numbers and simple equations for each lock and key.
- The first part of the activity had my son matching the number written out on the lock with the number on the key.
- On the other side of the lock I had the simple equation.
- He jumped on the words and numbers happily – they were fun and easy.
- Then I locked them all and mixed them up.
- This took some thinking and using of fingers to count which he did under the table . He is reluctant to use his fingers and wants to “just know” the right answer. This is something we are working on as showing the work is so important.
- He got it!
You can do this for so many things and I’d love to do it with words using pictures but I need to collect more locks – they aren’t as cheap as I had hoped!
We love math lessons and after going to a presentation all about teaching math to young children I am pumped for a ton of cool math activities for kids! Nothing makes math more fun than using a theme and cool manipulatives. Even better than cool manipulatives are frugal ones made from dollar store items. This whole activity cost me $2! Best part is that because the lily pads are foam even using permanent markers I can write equations on both sides to get more bang for my buck. Frugal, fun and educational.
- Gather your materials. You will need some foam circles, permanent marker , plastic frogs and scissors.
- Start by cutting a wedge out of your foam circles.
- Next add some equations. Gear these to your child. Do not worry about what your neighbor is doing or that your great aunt’s second cousins’ kid is multiplying at the age of 2 … everyone loves to share their pride in their kids and who can blame them?! But all that matters is helping our kids learn at their own pace. You can do equations like we did or you can simply write numbers and have your child place that many frogs on each lily pad.
- Add the frogs and your child. I totally goofed and didn’t have enough frogs for all the equations but my son just borrowed from an equation he had already completed.
- When we started my son was determined to do the math in his head. I immediately explained to him that in Kindergarten ( he is crazy excited about kindergarten) that he will always have to show his work, how he got to a number and to feel free to use the frogs, or his fingers.
- He chose his fingers … and amazingly the math was a breeze after that.
- Use proper math terms like equation, difference, subtract or the terms that fit the equations you are attempting. Using the proper terms is part of math knowledge as well.
Although my son opted to use his fingers encourage your child to use the frogs for each equation especially if they are challenged by the equations. Fingers are great too but I find manipulatives even more effective than fingers for subtraction. Also when they move up to multiplication in later years using manipulatives like this are magic in my experience . If you do not have enough frogs simply present the lily pads one at a time.
Books About Frogs
Too Many Frogs by Sandy Asher is a funny tale about a introverted Rabbit and a friendly Froggie who is a little clueless that he is imposing on Rabbit’s politeness when he invites himself over to listen to stories every night. Rabbit eventually breaks down and has had enough when Froggie brings his whole family reunion with him one evening to hear the stories as well. You will like how this story ends , the goofy but warm characters and expressive illustrations.
Wendy the Wide-Mouthed Frog by Sam Lloyd Like it or not, our kids will probably encounter someone who thinks they are better than anyone else (or they may go through a stage of this themselves). Wendy is a frog who thinks just that and criticises the other animals in the wild for not being as great as she is. That is, until she meets a squid. At first I thought, with Wendy poking fun of other animals, that the book was somewhat negative in nature. Although Wendy isn’t nice and does change her tune at the end (though doesn’t apologize to others for her behavior), the book does open up an opportunity to discuss how negative comments can make our friends feel bad. Wendy herself is a hand puppet which mom can use to bring Wendy to life but the kids will love the squid page where they too can stick their hand in to be the squid’s tentacles. This moves kids from being passive listeners to interacting with the book too. ( reviewed by contributing writer Carrie Anne)
Leap Back Home to Me by Lauren Thompson gave me goosebumps and made me want to give the author a high five. The little frog leaps away from mama frog going further and further away but leaps back home to his mama each time with then end being spot on with the text changing from ” then leap home to me” to ” when you leap back home , here I’ll be”. My heart was aching seeing the little frog grow so fast! I love this book. It’s got very simple repetitive text ( great for emergent readers!), the illustrations by Matthew Cordell are goofy and sweet. They match the text perfectly so they give great clues to readers who may be struggling with a word. As a read aloud this book is awesome , not only because the repetitive text has a great rhythm but as the little frog gets more independent and goes further from home the things he is leaping over are pretty goofy and will get more than a few laughs from any audience you are reading it to!
Now that my daughter is a very opinionated toddler she makes it very clear that she wants to do what her 5 year old brother is doing. It’s not always easy to find activities that both kids can sit down and do together. This was the perfect after Easter project that uses plastic eggs and they could both sit together and make something. Whether your child is making circle prints like my daughter or rolling, counting and printing they are learning all about math while creating beautiful art!
- Gather your materials. You will need some plastic Easter eggs ( but any print making tool will do ) paint, paper, a plate for the paint and some dice.
- Start by pouring some fun colors of paint on to the plate.
- For the beginner version hand them an egg and start making prints. For toddlers like my daughter I would use a big egg so it’s safe ( of course she grabbed the small one but I watched her carefully and it never went in her mouth) and do one initial print then let them go wild…and wild she did.
- For the advanced option roll the dice and see what you get. Whatever that number is is the number of times you make prints in the color of your choice .
- Roll again. Print again… keep going as long as there is room on the paper, or keep going on a new sheet.
- Don’t forget about the messy toddler. When they are printing make sure to narrate some of what they are doing . ” Oh that is a lovely red circle!” ” That pink paint looks fabulous on your hair!” .
This can be done with all sorts of tools like toilet paper rolls, stamps, potatoes and so much more. What is your favorite non conventional tool for painting?
Books About Painting
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!by Karen Beaumont is guaranteed to entertain your child, even my toddler was laughing and anticipating the rhyming text which tickled me to no end! Now I have had some parents in the past not be happy about the use of “ain’t ” and the little boy in the story painting everywhere, I would counter that by saying people do use “ain’t” and kids do paint on things they aren’t supposed to you can use this as an example of what you aren’t supposed to do, and ask your child what they think should happen if they painted all over the house? As far as using “Ain’t” I would play the traditional “It ain’t gonna rain no more” and explain that the author used that song as inspiration for the book.
Hugo and Miles In I’ve Painted Everything by Scott Magoon is going on my must buy list. I have renewed this book for months from my local library. I finally have to return this book and I just don’t want to! The book is all about Hugo a painter who has painter’s block. He goes to Paris with his best friend Miles for inspiration, and among the sites, the masterpieces and thanks to the Eiffel tower he finds it! I love this book and my son just eats it up. He wants to go to Paris to the “Moosay Dor-see” to see Van Gogh and climb the Eiffel tower thanks to Hugo!
Willow by Denise Brennan Nelson is another wonderful book about artistic spirit. Willow doesn’t follow the rules in art class, instead she paints what she sees when she closes her eyes. Her teacher’s rules are unfair, restrictive and she is just plain mean! It’s hard as a teacher to read stories with mean , repressive teachers in them, and this one takes the cake. Willow doesn’t stop painting blue apples and is confident in her individuality and isn’t as bothered by her mean teacher as I am. This story is really worth a look!!
I love my heart paper punch and my kids do too. It’s fun to make hearts for Valentine’s Day Crafts but you can also use them for math, write letters on them and play match.. the variations are endless. These three activities are just a few of the ways we have used punched out paper hearts lately.
I love painting in new ways and this was a great craft for my 19 month old who as you can see even helps me make a mess with a low mess activity like this. For another version of Valentine shake painting check out Hands On As We Grow- older kids will dig how they did it for sure!
- Gather your materials. You will need a plastic food container, some punched hearts( or cut out from construction paper), a piece of card stock, glue and paint of your choosing.
- Punch out some hearts from construction paper.
- Place them and paint in the food container. It’s easier to put the paint in first, they shake better that way. If you are nuts enough to hand your toddler the bottle of paint like I was be ready with a washcloth or my favorite- wipes.
- Put the top on and shake.
- Open and be amazed!
- Fold the card stock and add glue .
- Add hearts to glue and let dry. After seeing how cool the hearts looked someone else wanted in on the fun.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to only be about arts and crafts, we love math and made this super easy patterning activity.
- Gather your materials. You will need your paper hearts, a cookie sheet ( check out the dollar store), some double stick tape , a paper cup and a sheet of construction paper.
- Start by taping the paper down on the cookie sheet and adding double stick tape to the hearts.
- Make some simple patterns. I like to start simple then slip a harder one or two in before getting easier again. I want my son to feel successful but challenged.
- Place the extra in a cup . I make sure there aren’t too many extra hearts but that there is more than the few he needs to finish the pattern.
- Complete the patterns.
After we were done with this my daughter ( who is all about hearts right now)painted over it for a valentine for my husband. I love when we reuse tray table activities like that.
Heart Color Match
This is another easy tray activity. Using a silicone pan I placed a different color paper heart in each and had the corresponding colors in a pile waiting to be matched up. This was too hard for my daughter at 19 months and my son would be bored to tears with it. It’s smack in the middle between their abilities so no pics of their participation but I still wanted to include the idea for the older toddlers and younger preschoolers who would love it.
Heart of Hearts Collage
I made this last year over at my other blog Craftitivity Corner on FamilyEducation.com pop over to see the tutorial.
My son loves math and adding marshmallows into the mix pretty much made this activity one of the highlights of our snow storm fun last week. You don’t have to add the contact paper but by adding it becomes reusable and I was able to quickly make the activity more challenging when my original problems were too simple. If marshmallows are not something you want to use as a manipulative try buttons, packing peanuts or cotton balls.
- Gather your materials. You will need 3 full sheets of construction paper ( backing, cups and strips of hot chocolate), a washable marker, double stick tape, a bunch of mini marshmallows, a white crayon for the steam, scissors, a tray or cookie sheet to keep it all together and a barely damp baby wipe for erasing the marker. I like dollar store cookie sheets because they keep the manipulatives in one place and I can attach the contact paper on top .
- Start by drawing a mug and cutting it out. I then used it as a template for 4 more.
- Tape the mugs down , add a strip of brown to suggest hot chocolate and add some stem with a white crayon.
- Cover with contact paper. Don’t you hate it when you make a ridge in the contact paper , the stuff is too costly to just redo it too. I dream of one day having a laminator….
- Using a washable marker write numbers or basic equations. I started with the ones above but as you will see had to change it to offer more of a challenge. That’s the beauty of the write and wipe surface.
- Add some marshmallows in a bowl and your little learner.
- I quickly changed 3+1 into 3-1 and the 5 into a 5+3 to test the waters.
- Magic of manipulatives- not a problem. Finding just the right level of challenge is a bit of trail and error. My son didn’t think he could do 9-1 but he did. That is the perfect zone when they feel unsure of success but are willing to take a chance and take on the challenge. That is when new connections are being made. This stuff excited me beyond words.
- This is such a great activity because you can wipe it clean and customize it to your needs 2 months from now or right away for another learner.