## Shoot & Add { Nerf Gun Math For Kids }

This outdoor math for kids can be done with beanbags, baseballs, water balloons… or Nerf guns like we used. My mantra is to use what they love to make them love learning and that is what we did. Nerf guns are big news at our house right now because I just relented and let my kids have them. Using the darts are an outside only activity although they are loved less for their shooting ability and more for a pretend play prop. Either way they are the bright shiny new and novel item at our house so I used them to make learning fun after school. My goal with all the activities in the Learning After School series is to make the activities for school age kids that are educational without making them feel like homework. Here is what we did with this math for kids activity and yes they LOVED it!

Gather your materials. You will need some plastic cups, a permanent marker, something to use to write down the tally, a nerf blaster , and eye protection. If you don’t want to use a Nerf gun you could use a bean bag or ball.

Start by writing out numbers on the cups. We did 1-6 but you could number them anything you like. Set them up in a pyramid.

Knock those numbers down!!

Add all the numbers on the cups together and record on the chalkboard.

This activity was made for my 6 year old not my 3 year old but so when she shot them down I had her simply identify the numbers on the cups. I am planning on doing this again with her using a bean bag instead of a Nerf gun and the goal of hitting specific cups down. I will post it when I do.

Set the cups back up and go again. Add the tally up. I did the addition for my daughter but got her to write some. My son did his own writing. It’s not a ton of practice but it’s a little something in the midst of a fun activity so I will take it!

Like I said this was designed for my almost 7 year old not my 3 year old. She did well with it and had fun but I would never use this activity with a group of 3 year olds – nerf guns while safe to play with still hurt if you get one in the eye or at close range which is why they had safety glasses on. You know best what your kids are ready for but I just wanted to be clear that this is meant for our big kids !

## Jar Of Hearts – Valentine’s Day Math Printable

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.

1. 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.

3. 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.

## Shape Princess Craft

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.

1. Gather your materials. You will need 2 sheets of construction paper , scissors, glue , sequins, googly eyes and a marker or two.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. We turned the princess upside down to glue on her crown.
6. 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.
7. She needed a little help with the crown jewels.
9. Add hair and a smile if you want.
10. Let dry. She was very excited to show her Belle doll the princess she made.

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.

## Hot Chocolate Math

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.

1. 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 .
2. Start by drawing a mug and cutting it out. I then used it as a template for 4 more.
3. Tape the mugs down , add a strip of brown to suggest hot chocolate and add some stem with a white crayon.
4. 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….
5. 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.
7. I quickly changed 3+1 into 3-1 and the 5 into a 5+3 to test the waters.
8. 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.
9. 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.

## Counting Around The House – Math Activity

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.

1. 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.
2. Draw a house .
3. Decide what things you want to count and write them on. I made the windows and doors spots to write the numbers in.