Craft by Numbers – Christmas Tree

Do you remember paint by numbers? I used to love doing them but mixing the numbers up ( yeah I was that kid) my son however is all about numbers and this was a fun way to make something festive but also let his interest in math be spotlighted. You could do this with shapes, or letters too.  I didn’t tell him that the final result was a Christmas tree so it was fun to have him “decode” the craft as we went.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some pom-poms in different colors, cups to sort them in,  construction paper, glue and a marker.
  2. Start by sorting your pom-poms by color into different cups, write different numbers on each cup. I wrote 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 on mine since we’d just been chatting about counting by 10s.  To have your child help sort the pom poms just put on of each color in one cup to use as a guide.
  3. Write out the numbers on the paper in a design. I did green outline, with random colors and green in the middle.
  4. Start gluing the pom poms on using the code.
  5. hmmmm what could it be?
  6. All done! Let dry.

Great Christmas Book!

a creature was stirring by Clement C. Moore and  Carter Goodrich  was a recent find at the library. Around the holidays ( any holiday) my son and I attack the stacks like soldiers on a mission and look for the sticker on the binding indicating it’s a Christmas themed book. This was one of the few we found yesterday , and what a find! The book is an adaptation of the classic ‘Twas a NIght Before Christmas with a little boy interupting the poem with his own rhyming story.  It’s an adorable story about a little boy who simply can’t sleep , wants to be good but is oh so worried Santa will think he is naughty. I adore this book, it’s simple and fun and a great addition to the classic that so many of us have been read and will read to our kids this Christmas.

Halloween Math – Count and Fill Frankenstein

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Start by cutting your paper towel rolls into smaller tubes.
  3. Next color the top of the roll black.  Just use a regular old marker.
  4. Next wrap green painters tape around the bottom of the rolls. Add faces with permenant marker, regular marker will smudge.
  5. Now cut the drinking straws into smaller pieces. Make sure they are long enough to be seen and grabbed above the rolls.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Give your child the straws and let them count and fill! My son loved that he was putting brains into Frankenstein… nice eh?
  9. It was during this lesson that I introduced my son to double checking his work. Here he is counting a 2nd time.
  10. 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?

6 Clothespin Crafts!

I get emails often asking for ideas based on materials so today I compiled some of our crafts that use clothespins. Our favorite is the Clothespin Dinosaur Craft above but over the years we have used clothespins for a whole bunch of learning.

Paint Chip Color Match

Clothespin Teaching Turkey

Color Wheel Match

Jack and The Beanstalk

Clothespin Patterns

How Many? Estimating Activity

estimation station for kids uo

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. Time to estimate!
  5. Write it down.
  6. Open and count.
  7. Repeat with other jars . 

Books About Math

Make math fun for kids right away and they are more likely to enjoy it throughout school, even when it gets complicated and for many kids a little ( or a lot ) frustrating. These books are all fun math books that make numbers cool.

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!

Monster Math by Anne Miranda is a math lesson turned into a fun and entertaining storybook. You can simply read the book or you can have your little mathematician help you guess how many new monsters arrive and leave on each page. The illustrations are adorable and even if the math skills are above your toddler or preschoolers heads they will still enjoy the book.

1+1=5: and Other Unlikely Additions by David LaRochelle was sent to me by the publisher a few months back. I waited to review it because the concept was a little over my son’s head until recently. The book as you might guess by the title is not about adding the obvious but rather the less obvious numbers in an illustration. Do not read this book with your child until they understand addition, counting and won’t get confused. That said when they have that down this book is genius! I say that because it forces them to look at all different numbers of things to figure out what the author is counting.  Readers see the equation first and the objects they are counting are usually hidden so you will have to turn the page to figure it out. Flip the page and it’s more obvious , for example 1+1 = 100 and the picture includes a pumpkin and watermelon. Flip the page and you see they are cut open with many seeds in full view. It’s tricky but if you have a child interested in math or mysteries grab it and have a look.

First Numbers (Usborne First Numbers) by Jo Litchfield and Felicity Brooks is a wonderful book for kids that can’t get enough math but it’s also great for parents because it covers all areas of the subject. SO often as parents we want to enrich our children’s learning but aren’t fully aware of the full scope of the subjects. This book is a great guide covering the basics from counting, addition, subtraction and multiplication but also sorting, matching, and basic fractions.  My son likes this book and some of it is well past his ability but much of it is at that perfect place where he get’s it with just a little help. This book will be a staple in our book shelf for a few years for sure!

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!