## Monster Math Tray – Learning After School

Math is probably my son’s favorite subject right now and I am running with it. This monster math activity took 2 minutes to set up and could be used over and over . No need to buy anything other than paper and googly eyes! I like making simple tray activities like this that I can have ready for him at the table in the playroom to do after school. They are educational and appealing but not so long that he gets overwhelmed after a long day of school. As you will see my toddler demanded she get in on the action too, luckily this was easy to adapt to her level as well. For a fun variation check out how you can use dice for even more monster math over at Inner Child Learning.

1. Gather your materials. You will need some bright paper, googly eyes, a pencil ( if you want to use the monsters more than once) , and scissors. I also had a small cup and cookie tray to keep everything contained.
2. Start by folding your paper in half and cutting out the shape of a monster. Best part is that they can be detailed or a blob , not need for extraordinary artistic skills!
3. Next write simple math equations on the monster. If your child isn’t up to equations yet just do numbers. You can also do shapes and have your child place the eyes on the shapes. I used markers for the photos but If you want to use this more than once you can use pencil, or laminate the monsters and use dry erase markers.
4. All ready – now add a math wizard! He loves this . I love that while doing math he is also working on fine motor skills that he needs for writing.
5. After he did addition we flipped it over and did some subtraction. He loved it too!
6. ” I do it TOO!!!” To make it toddler friendly I only used the largest eyes, and wrote simple numbers on the monsters. My daughter still needed a little help as I thought she would but she was ecstatic to be doing big girl math with her big brother. All I know is she begged to do math. Let’s keep that spirit going right?

## Monster Books

Check out our round up of monster books for some reading after your math!

## Haunted House Math Activity

Using holidays like Halloween as a theme for great learning activities is a sure fire hit in my house. My daughter who is 2 is always excited to do any project but my almost 6 year old is a lot more picky. This Halloween math activity was such a hit that when I asked my son to rate it 1-100 he gave it a 100 without hesitation! Better yet it’s pretty easy to make , adapt for various levels and frugal too.

1. Gather your materials. You will need some craft paper , markers , white card stock ( or paper plates !), scissors, painter’s tape and something to attach the house to a wall. I used push pins but more painter’s tape would work too.
2. Cut out simple ghost shapes  from the paper plates / card stock. Add faces and numbers. I did 1-10 but you can write whatever numbers your child is working on.
3. Draw a haunted house on craft paper. Mine took 3 tries the first was so bad I should have taken a picture to make you all laugh. The other ones became coloring paper for my toddler.
4. Write out simple equations , number words or even just numbers to match up. You will see further down that for a toddler like my daughter you don’t even need anything to match. Just play with the numbers on the ghosts.
5. Add painter’s tape to the ghosts and on the haunted house where you will place the equations.
6. Add the equations to the house, put the ghosts next to it ready to be put in the house and call your little mathematician.
7. As soon as my son saw the activity he said it was too easy and it probably was.  I grabbed my iPhone and asked him if he wanted me to time him. His face lit up. I don’t suggest timing children who don’t want to be timed or who will feel negatively pressured . Matching the words with the numbers on the ghosts was an easy task for my son but he has a competitive spirit and timing him made it more fun because it made it challenging.
8. He flew through it. Placing the ghosts on top of the matching words.
9. Next I switched the words on the house to simple equations. These were not going to be as easy and I told him for this time we would not be timing it.  I think that if I’d done the harder task first he would have gotten frustrated when a few of the harder equations didn’t come to him immediately.
10. After my son was done I removed all the tape and equations so the house was clear , and put the ghosts back on the wall. Then invited my daughter who is 2 to come and put the ghosts in the haunted house. It was perfect for her. She grabbed the ghosts and named the numbers she knew and asked me to confirm the numbers she didn’t. She was very specific about where they should be. I was thrilled that they both had fun with math at their own levels of learning!

## Ghosts In The House

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara is on my must buy list! A little girl moves into house and soon finds out it is haunted. Luckily she is a witch and knows just what to do. The ghosts in the story seem mischievous but never scary and even when she washes them in the washing machine, they are still smiling. My son loved this book, the text was the perfect length for a 3 year old, short but still descriptive.  I loved the simple  black and orange colors and had to look at the copyright twice because I was certain this was written sometime in the 30s, nope 2008. The simplicity of the book and colors is balanced so well with the little details like the little girl’s constant companion , a white cat that puts on a black costume when the little witch pops on her hat. This detail had my son in stitches, “Cats don’t wear clothes , silly cat!” .  Absolutely a perfect Halloween book for children not yet ready to be scared for fun!

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## Cheeseball Math

by Kim

I got the inspiration for this activity from Disney’s Family Fun magazine June/July 2012 issue. The idea they shared in the magazine was to cover shower caps with shaving cream and toss cheese puffs at each other to see how many puffs you could get to stick. I quickly saw potential for this to turn into some fun learning.

Grab some cardboard, shaving cream, post-it notes, a marker, and some cheeseballs. We are about to get cheesy. Yes, I know how dorky how I am.

I drew numbers on some post-it notes and affixed them to the cardboard for my preschooler. You could write directly on the cardboard, but this way I could easily change the numbers to allow a wider spectrum for practice.

I then wrote some math equations for my five year old son on post-it notes and affixed those to a different piece of cardboard.

My son read the equations and figured them out.

He threw the corresponding number of cheeseballs at the targets that equaled the answer.

My three year old starting throwing the number of cheeseballs at the corresponding numbers written above the targets.

Littlest sister couldn’t resist how much fun everyone was having and had to join in. She helped count as we threw and then did some throwing herself when it was her turn.

There you have it, fun math! It combines throwing, aiming, math equations, number recognition, counting, and even sensory fun by spreading the shaving cream. We had a blast!

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Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.