## Hanging Out The Wash { Math & Fine Motor Skills}

Clothespins are some of my favorite tools for learning and this easy math activity uses them along with your child’s imagination and love of mundane adult things like hanging clean socks on the line. This number matching activity wasn’t easy for my daughter at first but after she got the hang of it it was a breeze. The turning point was folding the sock over the line and then she could pin it herself.   This can be set up, played with and taken down over and over.

1. Gather your materials. You will need some fabric paint, socks ( try the dollar store if you don’t have extras at home), some wired ribbon, marker,  a basket, clothes pins and something to secure the ribbon to the wall.
2. Start by painting numbers on your socks.  I let ours dry for 2 full days… just in case.
3. Write the numbers on your clothes pins. I did 2 sets one for my daughter and the other with simple equations for my son. He wasn’t into this activity “It’s kinda for little kids Mom.”  so I will use this clothes pins for a “big kid” activity like this one instead.
4. Set your clothesline up and pop the socks in the basket. Invite your little learner to hang out the wash.
5. The way I had it set up originally required me to help her and it slowed things down and she was frustrated not being able to do it herself.
6. So we switched things up and she was clearly thrilled.
7. I took all the pins off and put the socks on the line folded over.
8. Then she grabbed the matching pin and clipped it on. After that she was golden and quickly matched the numbers up. It took a lot of coordination to get the correct pin on.

## 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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## How Many? Estimating Activity

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 .

## Valentine’s Day Craft and Math Lesson

Patterns, ordering, shapes , sorting and counting are all used in this simple Valentine’s Day  craft made with playing cards . That’s not even all the wonderful skills used, lacing the cards on uses fine motor skills and hand eye coordination.  What I love is that I can make a Valentine’s day craft that is educational, low mess ( no glitter, glue or paint) and cost me less than \$3!

1. Gather your materials. You will need a deck of playing cards with a red design on the back, a heart paper punch, hole punch, some ribbon or yarn , scissors and some clear tape.
2. Start by sorting the cards into suits . This is a long craft so I only put two suits on our place mat.
3. Next place the cards in numerical order.
4. Next hand your child the heart punch and have them punch hearts in cards of other suits . We used the clovers that we sorted in the 2nd step.
5. While they do that punch holes in the cards that they put in numerical order.
6. Punch holes in the hearts .
7. Start threading. This is not easy. Be prepared to help, or if you have a child like mine be prepared to be told you aren’t allowed to help and wait until they ask for it. To make lacing easier wrap tape around the ends of the ribbon/ yarn. My 4 year old laced 3 cards and 4 hearts alone, then handed me the right numbers as I did the lacing. A nice thing about using playing cards is that they are sturdy and hard to tear.
8. Hang it up!

I hate just recycling scrap wrapping paper after wrapping gifts. I’d much rather use it for crafts! I also like that this craft is a pretty fast one to set up and depending on your child’s abilities they can do this semi independently. I made lunch while my son did this , stopping only to take pictures and reign in his glue habit ( I would have used a glue stick if mine weren’t all dried up – must get some new ones).  One other thing I’d do differently – I’d use a larger piece of paper ( or smaller trees) so you could also make the squares larger, the small ones were at some times tricky to match up.

1. Gather your materials. You will need a large sheet of construction paper multiple scrap pieces of wrapping paper,a marker, scissors and glue.
2. Start by cutting your wrapping paper into 3 different trees .
3. cut the rest into square ‘gifts”
4. Glue the trees onto the paper.
5. Invite your child to sort and match!
6. Glue them on. Like I said a glue stick would be ideal but white glue worked.