## Paint and Peel Math Craft

When you find something your child genuinely loves use it! My son adores painting with this roller sponge, he calls it his steam roller and pretends to be making a road on any painting we make with it.  When I suggested we make a magic number painting with it he all but leaped into the kitchen, which delighted me since he has not been as keen about art since the weather has been amazing, really who can blame the kid?

1. Gather your materials. You will need a sheet of light colored paper, some vinyl number stickers, paint, plates and a sponge or roller sponge paint brush. Using a sponge is much easier when you want coverage. This activity doesn’t work well if the whole paper isn’t covered in paint.
2. Start by placing the number sticker on the paper. Depending on your child’s ability you can simple pop them on , or challenge them to make numbers with them. For example say ” Can you make 23? Or 51? ” don’t push it though having fun with learning is the point not quizzing your kids.
3. Pour paint onto the plates.
4. Start painting.
5. I called out the numbers at first for my son to cover with paint asking him if he could find 7 or 4  etc… but then he started to pretend that he was building a road and I sat back and listened to his pretend play.
6. Let dry.
7. Peel off.  As adults we know that the number will peel off and white will be beneath it but at least for my 3 year old it was a fun and awesome surprise – and he even thought it was magic that they were white!

Anno’s Counting Book Big Book by Mitsumasa Anno almost didn’t make it into my library bag. I am so glad it did. This is a wonderful book full of possibilities. There is no text , simple aerial illustrations of a field as it evolves one number at a time. The illustrations fill up quickly and it might take a while to see that you have to classify the pictures on each page to match it with the number on the page but once you do , each page is a lesson!
One White Wishing Stone by Doris K. Gayzagian is a beautiful book. Visually it reminds me of an impressionist painting, the soft beach colors used by illustrator Kristina Swarner are calming and pretty. This is more than just a counting book, there is a story of a little girl at the beach,what she finds and how she plans to use them when she takes them home. It’s so beautifully done that it almost makes me forget how much I hate finding sand in my car after a trip to the beach.

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!

## Flower Math Activity

We have giant daisies in our backyard and thank goodness we do because all my son has wanted to do for art lately has been firetruck or dirt related. Not that most of my readers can’t appreciate that but it’s nice to squeeze some prettier more genteel themes in with the diggers and sirens. This was fast but substantial and after making it we picked a few daisies and counted their petals too!

1. Gather your materials. You will need 4 colors ( white, yellow, green and blue)  of  construction paper ( really you only need one full piece , the others can be scrap) , a marker, glue , scissors and a circle paper punch if you have it.
2. Start by punching out some yellow circles, for the center of the daisies. My son adored this step and I had to get him some scrap paper to keep going.
3. Cut some stems from the green paper. You can make leaves too, we just chose not to.
4. Cut out petals from the white paper.
5. Ask your child for numbers to put in the middle of the flowers. Alternatively you can write in the numbers you know your child is struggling with , if you do that write a few they are consistently successful with as well. By setting them up for success with some of the numbers you will boost their confidence and they are more likely to take on the challenge of a “trickier” number.
6. Glue the stems on.
7. Add glue for the centers.
9. Add the petals. I had my son read me the number, then he counted the petals as he added them. Then after he was done we “checked his work” by counting them again.
10. Let dry.

## Song

I’m a little daisy
tall and slim.
Here are my petals and here is my stem.
When the sun comes up and the rain comes down
I grow and grow up from the ground.

## Books

by Kevin Henkes is a lovely book about having confidence, loosing confidence and regaining it in the end. Chrysanthemum is a little mouse who loves her name until she goes to school and is picked on for it being out of the ordinary. Who can’t relate to this? I know I can . Thankfully my son  has yet to experience this all too common, but still so heartbreaking experience . I love that I have a book like this to share with him and open up about it before it happens. Ultimately Chrysanthemum learns to love her name again and regains the confidence she once had. Another fantastic book from a consistently wonderful author

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart Is a really touching book that I would happily recommend for school age children. It’s a beautiful story about a little girl during the depression who is shipped to the city to work in her uncle’s bakery because both her parents are out of work.  She is obviously nervous but knows that it’s something she has to do.  She takes a little of the country with her in seed packets which she plants in the city while she learns about baking and becomes friends with her uncles employees. This is more a story about making the most of hard times, and would be a great way to talk about the great depression with your child. There are so many little things in the illustrations by David Small to talk about , from a picture of FDR to traveling by train and  the general sense of sadness .  In the end it’s a warm hearted book that I can’t wait to share with my son in a few years.

The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jennifer Wojtowicz is one of those books that stays with you. Rink is a little boy who’s family is strange, Rink is no exception, with every full moon he sprouts flowers , from his head. At school he is an outsider and only when a new girl comes to school does he make a friend. He reaches out to her because she too is an outsider, not at school, in her own family. In the end the kindred spirits celebrate their uniqueness. This odd romantic story will warm your heart and serves as a great lesson about how we all feel different and like an outsider sometimes. The illustrations by Steve Adams will stun you, they were so vibrant and paired so perfectly with the story. Wonderful!

## 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.

## 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!

## Fast Friday Fun !

Sticker
Number Card

I haven’t had a lot of number activities because I have been following my son’s lead with most of our projects and he has been into many things but numbers weren’t one of them, until now. So for the reader that emailed me yesterday about numbers here is just the first of many to come! This project is fun, fast and perfect for kids who love stickers. Not only is your child developing one to one correspondence , they are practicing their fine motor skills while peeling off the small stickers!

1. Gather your materials. You will need some stiff paper, a marker , scissors and a good number of small stickers.
2. Fold your paper accordion style. I prefer to fold first because I am terrible with rulers, but you can switch step 2 and 3 if you want.
3. Draw the outline , boxes and numbers. For younger children keep it simple with a few numbers, older ones can do many! If your child is able have them write the numbers themselves.
4. Sit down with your young child to do this- they may need some help. With my two year old I asked him what the number was, praised him up and down when he recognized it and helped him if he didn’t. Then I said ” Can you put 1 sticker under the number 1?” ect.. for each number. He needed no other help but fizzled after 4. That’s ok, don’t push it if your child fizzles, praise them for what they did do and trim the card so they see they completed the task. Have realistic expectaitions, more than 4 was a little lofty for my guy!
5. Count your beautiful numbers as the mood strikes !