## Valentine’s Day Math Activity

I wasn’t sure what to title this activity because it’s a math game that results in and Valentine’s Day craft. You play the game then you can pass the finished heart on to someone you love. This is perfect for Valentine’s Day parties because the kids are engaged and learning but there is still something cute to take home. You can make your own game board or print out ours for free here.

Gather your materials. You will need the heart game boards, some dice, heart stickers, and scissors.

The rules of the game are simple. You roll the dice and add the two numbers together. If you have that number on your heart you cover it with a sticker. If you are having a hard time getting the higher numbers add a third die if time is short. Similarly if you are having a tough time getting smaller numbers simply use one die.

My daughter was so into this game. Simple addition like this is really starting to stick with her and she was eager to show off her counting skills.

My son thought it was for babies. He is great at math and it was too easy. I thought he’d still want to play but I missed the mark on this one for him. Instead of forcing him to play after a long day at school I told him to cover all the numbers and cut it out. So he did. In our house you have to do your homework but activities like this aren’t a must.

While he was cutting my littlest math whiz was rolling away solo and loving it. I did have to remove one die to finally roll that number two. But she did it! All the numbers were covered .

After she was done I cut the heart out for her and they are on our fridge ( you can see them in this post from last week ).

What do you have planned for Valentine’s Day? I think we are going to have heart shaped tortilla pizzas and watch a movie together.

## Tally Mark Dominoes & Speed Racer Math Games

Learning after school at our house has to be fast paced and fun. These math games are both. They are also a cinch to make and frugal too.  Subitizing is the ability to recognize an amount without counting. It’s not a skill most of us were specifically taught in school but in recent years it’s been added to most elementary math curriculums. As the name of my blog suggests I am not a huge fan of flash cards but for some things that require automatic recall they make sense. Subitizing is one of those skills that requires automatic recall but flash cards aren’t the only way you can work on the skill. Games like these are great too.

Gather your materials . You will need some sentence strips ( using the back side) , scissors, and a permanent marker.

Cut your sentence strips in half. I used 2 colors but you don’t have to. Draw a line down the middle of each card and a tally mark on one side , number on the other. These should not match. Let the marker dry completely before playing.

The first game we played is a variation of dominoes. We placed one card on the table and split the others among the players. Then we took turns building by matching up the tally mark amounts to the numbers. The first person that had all their cards down won.

The next game was my son’s favorite. It’s a head to head speed game. Here are the instructions: Shuffle the cards. Place two down so the tally mark is facing the finish line ( in our case the end of the table) . Place the other cards in a pile face down and flip. When a match is made place it down end to end and keep going. The first person to reach the finish wins.

Practicing math at home does not need to be extra worksheets all the time. Make these simple games and you can play and practice at the same time.

## Candy Apple Math Game For Kids

Candy is a great motivator. It’s not the main motivator I want to use but from time to time it’s novelty is useful and a fun break from more everyday things. This is a simple math game for kids that works on sorting, estimation ,and counting. When working with kids and edibles my rule is that if you do not sneak any you get a small pile at the end of the activity. My son is a rule follower by nature and did this as we have in the past. His 3 year old sister did not. Every child is different but that rule has worked for me over the years much more often than not. Have pom poms or buttons on hand if you need to swap out or prefer not to use candy at all.

1. Gather your materials. You will need a sheet of paper with three trees on it ( you can print mine here) , cookie sheets to keep the candies from rolling away, candies ( our natural dyed red is sorta wine colored but the kids didn’t bat an eye), a small dish for each player, and a jar with a lid.
2. Give each child a sheet with three trees and a small dish. Shake up the jar with all 3 colors of candies in it and pour some into each child’s dish.
3. Have them guess which tree will have the most apples on it by estimating which color is the most prevalent in their dish of candies.
4. Start sorting the candies and placing them on the matching trees.
5. Which has the most? Which has the least? How many do they all have? Count to find out.
6. Sneak a few candies… or every single green candy when mom is busy taking pictures of your big brother counting.
7. Pour the candies back in the jar, shake, and repeat the game.  For my son I had him figure out how many more the tree with the most had than the tree with the least and do some other simple addition and subtraction by allowing him to eat a few and then telling me how many there were after eating them. For my daughter I had her simply count and sort. I loved how easy it was to adapt to both their levels.

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Apple Picking Time by Michele Benoit Slawson  was not what I was expecting , it was so much more. I was expecting a basic book about picking apples at an orchard.  This book is anything but basic, it’s dreamy and while reading it I almost felt as thought I was back in time when a whole community would come to a stand still for something like apple picking.  The protagonist is Anna a little girl who works hard in the orchard along side her parents and grandparents . She isn’t as fast as her parents, but with hard work and the support of her family she reaches her goal and fills a bin! I loved this book,  I would suggest it for preschoolers and up.

Apples, Apples, Apples by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace will not be returned to the library on time. We got it out today and my son has had me read it to him 3 times, and his dad read it twice. Clearly it gets the 3 year old seal of approval. It also gets mine. The story is more than just a story about a afmily going apple picking at an orchard. It explains all sorts of apple facts but what I really love is that it also explains that there are different kinds of apples and each are used for different things. Since each member of the family is using their apples for different purposes that fact is driven home . Great book for preschoolers going on a apple picking field trip , making applesauce or apple prints.

One Red Apple by Harriet Ziefert is stunning. I really enjoy this author but most of my praise for this book lands squarely on the illustrator Karla Gudeon’s shoulders. WOW. I just adore the look, and creativity of this book. The story follows the cycle of one apple from orchard, to market back to seed, tree and back into the hands of a child. I enjoy books like this that simply explain the cycles of the natural world to young kids , but you can’t miss this one.  As I turned each page I gasped, it’s one of those books you just need to sit and look at because each time you do you find some little detail you missed before.

## Secret Code For Kids { Math Activity }

My son loves math and spies so this secret code for kids activity is right up his alley. Math is one way he bonds with his dad .In our 45 Ways To Show Dad You Love Him #29 is ” Do math drills together”  and they really do love doing it. I prefer more playful ways to teach math and I hope between mom and dad my son has a good foundation of support as he learns. This math activity is geared towards kindergarten through 2nd grade but you could adapt it to your child’s level easily. Check out the steps below for my suggestions how to adapt it.

1. Gather your materials. All you need are 2 pieces of paper as fancy or as plain as you wish, a marker and pencil.
2. Start by deciding what secret message you are going to write out. and places dashes on the paper. For older children make more complicated phrases and include punctuation. For younger children make sure that you are creating a secret message they will recognize like their name.
3. Write out the key.
4. Write the clues. For my son I used simple math equations but for younger children you could just use numbers that match up.
5. Time to crack the code!
6. He had a blast – there were a lot of equations and while some were simple, some were tough. I like to balance out challenges with easier ones that help create a sense of confidence.  You may want to have some manipulatives on hand for your child to use . We grabbed some googly eyes for my son to use for some of the clues.
7. Getting my son to practice handwriting is tough so sneaking it in with math is my secret weapon. After figuring out a few clues he discovered he had to write his letters more carefully so he could read the message once he had all the clues. This made him slow down which is a challenge at the best of times.
8. He did it ! Being the just kid that he is he flipped it over and included his own message.

How do you sneak learning in with your kids during the summer?  For more summer learning ideas check out our Pinterest Boards . I pin new ideas daily ( sometimes hourly… )

## Book

Detective Camp by Ron Roy is a perfect book to read with this activity. My son and I just finished it tonight. In this easy read chapter book three friends are off to summer camp but it’s not just any summer camp it’s Detective Camp!  I really love this book because not only does it talk about summer camp , friendship and solving mysteries it also introduces kids to Grandma Moses and art forgery. There is even a hidden message that readers must piece together . My 6 year old loved it and even though he is not a reluctant reader the hidden message would be a great motivator for kids who are less excited to read.

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## Santa Themed Math Game

One of the things I love most about blogging is how one post will inspire another and not just on the same blog but from one blogger to another . I wasn’t going to post this yet but when Kristina from Toddler Approved posted this Corn Roll  game that we inspired with our Candy Corn Counting I knew I needed to share this game. Also we have been playing it a lot, and not just because the tv is broken, because it’s fun!

1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper, markers, marshmallows or even cotton balls, a die and someone to play against.
2. Start by drawing Santa , I couldn’t find a good printable with a beard big enough for the numbers. Which was good since my printer is out of ink anyway. So I drew the santas.
4. I put the sheets on clip board to keep them from blowing around, but you could laminated them or pop them on a cookie sheet with some magnets too.
5. The objective is simple you want to fill up Santa’s beard first but covering all the numbers with marshmallows. The way you do that is to roll that number on the die.
6. Roll.
7. Add the marshmallow… oh and look who is getting a little fine motor practice too. I’m so sneaky.
8. We ended up playing a few times and by request one was a boys against girls. My daughter even rolled the die for the girls’ team!

I love games like this because they use a few novelties like Santa and marshmallows but are still packed with learning not only math but about sportsmanship and good game play.