This activity was inspired by my Halloween candy counting over at my other blog . Seeing how resistant my son is to writing tells me one thing, that he needs to practice lots but it needs to be within activities he loves. This is a math activity with gross motor, and some writing on a vertical surface which is great for beginning writers because it forces the correct wrist position and strengthens the correct muscles in the hand and arm.
- Gather your materials. You will need some paper ( I get this craft paper in the mailing supply section of Walmart , way cheaper than real butcher paper), markers and something to put the paper on the wall with. I use painter’s tape and I use a lot so my toddler doesn’t pick it off.
- Draw a house .
- Decide what things you want to count and write them on. I made the windows and doors spots to write the numbers in.
- Invite your counter to read the questions on the poster.
- Go count !
- Come back and fill in the answers.
- I wish I had a magic wand for my son to make him believe in his ability to write, to know that he doesn’t have to be perfect and to understand that just because reading is easy doesn’t mean that writing should be or that there is anything wrong because it’s hard. So instead we are doing lots of fun writing… and hoping we turn the corner gently on his terms if possible. He likes to “split the work” so I made sure we were counting some things with 2 digits, I’d do one or make dots for him and he’d do the other. I don’t think it’s worth it to push to frustration , instead finding ways to make him willing is more my style.
- Search your house poster to see which question has the biggest number and which is the smallest.
On the Launch Pad: A Counting Book About Rockets by Michael Dahl was a great find, my son loved counting down from 12-1 with the bright illustrations , simple text and hidden numbers on each page. Something that seems simple but was really awesome was that each page had the number written as a word, shown as a digit and as dots to count. You can take the time to count each dot, read the word or simply recognize the digit!
1, 2, Buckle My Shoe by Anna Grossnickle Hines is a wonderful first counting book, and a favorite of my daughter. The text is the simple rhyme, the pictures are photos of quilted numbers and buttons. The buttons correspond to the numbers and are so bright that they practically beg a child to touch and count them. My daughter who is 14 months loves to push the buttons, trace the numbers and laughs at the hen. Very sweet book.
How Much, How Many, How Far, How Heavy, How Long, How Tall Is 1000? by Helen Nolan has been sitting patiently on my shelf waiting for my son to be ready to read it. I used this in a math unit when I was a student teacher and absolutely love this book. The whole concept of this book is to explain the concept of 1000. We often teach our kids to count to 100 but don’t pay the same attention to getting them from 100-1000. This book takes it to the next step and demystifies the huge number 1000. It’s interesting, it uses examples kids can relate too and it gives many scenarios so those cogs turning in your child’s head has lots of chances to catch! I read it to my son for the first time yesterday and I loved being there for those moments when I know he just got it!
My husband loves math the way that I love art . When he talks about numbers his voices changes just a little bit the same way mine does when I start telling someone about the first time I saw a favorite painting in person. Well my son seems to be gearing more towards that side of things so I have been trying to come up with math activities that fit themes , have an art element if he wants to help me make them and most importantly are fun.
- Gather your materials. You will need a paper towel roll or two, some green painters tape , a black markers( one permenant and a regular washable one), drinking straws, stationary labels and scissors.
- Start by cutting your paper towel rolls into smaller tubes.
- Next color the top of the roll black. Just use a regular old marker.
- Next wrap green painters tape around the bottom of the rolls. Add faces with permenant marker, regular marker will smudge.
- Now cut the drinking straws into smaller pieces. Make sure they are long enough to be seen and grabbed above the rolls.
- Write numbers on the stationary labels. Make sure you write some numbers that are “easy” and many that are a challenge for them too. The balance of challenge and success builds their self confidence.
- Place the Frankensteins on the table with the labels infront. This do not stick to my table but I don’t want to be responsible for wrecking yours, so if you are worried pop down a placemat before the labels. If it’s too late try goo-gone that stuff is a preschool teacher’s secret weapon.
- Give your child the straws and let them count and fill! My son loved that he was putting brains into Frankenstein… nice eh?
- It was during this lesson that I introduced my son to double checking his work. Here he is counting a 2nd time.
- Peel the stickers off and put new ones on. Count and re-fill .
Halloween Counting Book
10 Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman is one of my favorite Halloween books and both my children love it. We’ve been reading it daily for a few weeks. The premise is simple, a group of trick or treaters are pegged off one by one as they are scared by some Halloween creature. Readers count down from 10 – 0 and enjoy the bright detailed illustrations as they do. I particularly like the cute costumes and the final page which has another countdown with candy – always fun to count candy right?
Every day items make great math manipulatives . When my son’s preschool class did a similar lesson using nice counting bears I knew I wanted to do it at home but with stuff I already had in my art closet. This activity was great because it gave my son a chance to do things he loves like estimate and count as well as things he resists doing like writing . All with things I had around the house!
- Gather your materials. You will need some jars or clear plastic containers, small items to pop in them , paper, a pencil, and a clip board. For some reason if I put paper on a clip board my son is way more excited to write than plain old paper.
- Start by filling the jars with small objects. I used corks, pom poms and plastic frog toys. Make sure there are enough to make it a little challenging, they shouldn’t be able to easily count the manipulatives when they are in the jar.
- Write a simple chart to record the items are in each jar . We only recorded the estimates but you can also write the results. I want to encourage my son to write but without pushing.
- Time to estimate!
- Write it down.
- Open and count.
- Repeat with other jars .
I love online shopping. With a handful of small children, you have to love online shopping (because browsing in the stores will make you insane). I never knew what to do with the packing peanuts.
Did you know that when packing peanuts get wet they “melt”?
Here is a fun way to use them to teach your child math. They make quite a perfect fit for counting and graphing. You just need a piece of paper, small bowl with water, a marker, packing peanuts, and glue (not in the picture).
Draw a space and then write the numbers you wish to use. I used 1-5, but this can be a great way to introduce counting by two’s (or anything else).
Have your child dip the ends of the packing peanuts in water. Press the ends together. They will “melt” and fuse to each other. Don’t use too much water or the peanuts will dissolve too much and become mush. You can have your child count out the peanuts as he fuses them together.
Place some glue on the paper and attach the coordinating stack of packing peanuts to the numbers.
The end result is a neat graph that clearly shows which numbers are greater. It is a fun way for children to learn number recognition, counting, graphing, and whatever else you can think of.
The stack in #4 really does have 4 peanuts, but a little too much water was used and one of the peanuts melted down into almost nothing. We still had a great time and learned a lot.