The Day It Rained Hearts Math Fun!

The Day It Rained Hearts Math Fun! @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Valentine’s Day is upon us, and since it is one of my favorite holidays of the year, I do love going the extra mile with the kids to create crafts that spread the love.  We have might QUITE a few homemade Valentines, which was a bit more than I was expecting, but both Jax and Em headed off to school this morning with bags of notes for their friends and teachers to let them know how much they are loved.  Little H made two bead pipe cleaner hearts for her preschool teachers, and Em made a bunch for the adults in her classroom.  Our little home mailbox is getting more full every day with notes and Valentines from the kids to us and other family members, and all in all, we are all feeling oh-so-lovely.

The Day It Rained Hearts Math Fun! @ Rub Some Dirt On It The Day It Rained Hearts Math Fun! @ Rub Some Dirt On It

One of my other favorite ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day is with our favorite Valentine book, The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond.  We have read this book a zillion times and have had it read to us at the library and in our Arts For Tots class.  It always gets me thinking about a fun math activity I did with the big kids a few years ago, and since Little H and I were headed to JoAnn Fabrics anyway, I thought it might be time for another go round of The Day It Rained Hearts math!

 Basically all you need are scissors, glue, and lots of different styles of card stock, including two different colors for your hearts.  Little H had a ball picking out the card stock for each of her siblings’ umbrellas, and the Easter egg pattern for herself (yikes!).  I found sky-colored paper for our background and pink and red sheets for our hearts.  Then the kids cut out their own umbrellas and designed their raining hearts.  The only person who had any real instructions was Jax, who only had to somehow group his hearts together.  Then, because I’m a nerd, we made different math equations about the arrangement of hearts on each person’s paper.  They were all different and appropriate to their math level.

Little H went first.  We counted all her red hearts, and all her pink hearts.  Then we counted how many in all.  She doesn’t understand the idea of equations yet, so we just kept it simple with one-to-one correspondence.

The Day It Rained Hearts Math Fun! @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I will allow you fair readers to take a moment to admire the Easter egg umbrella.  Fancy, isn’t it?

Em figured out her math equation on her own.  I’m so proud of my girl, learning so much in kindergarten this year!

I have 2 red hearts.  I have 7 red hearts.  I have 9 hearts in all.  2 +7 =9

The Day It Rained Hearts Math Fun! @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Jax is ready for a bit of a challenge, so I asked him to make a multiplication equation.  Nailed it!

I have five groups of two hearts.  5 x 2 = 10

The Day It Rained Hearts Math Fun! @ Rub Some Dirt On It (3)

Also, please stop and admire Jax’s umbrella as well.  Such a striking combination!

Differentiating for math can be fairly painless when you stop and think about how each of your children learns and what they are ready for.  They all did this project together side-by-side, and it was a lot of fun watching them solve their problems on their own!

This is making me very excited to shower them with love on Sunday!  I can’t wait to celebrate each of them in their own way.

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Number Gnomes!

Last Christmas, I had big plans to make some number gnomes for my kids to help them with their number recognition and basic math, like I had seen on Etsy.  Well, up until a few days ago, those unfinished wooden peg dolls sat in a box for the past twelve months! So one Sunday afternoon, while we watched football, Em and I decided that the wait was over.  Time to make some Number Gnomes!

number gnomes @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I’ve painted Rainbow Color Wooden Peg Dolls twice before, so I was confident in my painting skills.  This time, since I wasn’t worried about any babies gumming them, I used acrylic paint on all but the dark blue, which I had overlooked, and colored pencils for the faces.

NumberMath Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Em “helped” as much as she could, but on her first gnome she put a big splotch of red paint on his head, so we had to give them all hoods.  After that I let her paint the white peg dolls and cups.  I’m a little too OCD for those shenanigans.

NumberMath Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

So after we painted them all a different color…

Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

…we painted numerals on them once they were dry.

Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Meanwhile I let Em finish the white peg dolls, on which I wrote the plus, minus, and multiplication symbols, and an equal sign on one of the cups.  Now I have a whole set of number gnomes and some math gnomes to keep it interesting for the big kids. I am so excited!

NumberMath Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It Number/Math Peg Dolls @ Rub Some Dirt On It

My kids LOVE these, especially Jax! I’ve kept them on the kitchen table and he plays with them first thing in the morning.  Yesterday, he came up with a different idea, to put the answer to the math equation inside the equal cup.  So creative!


It’s not too late to make a set of Number Gnomes for the holidays as a colorful and fun way to help your favorite school-aged kid learn math!  Add them to our other set of colorful peg dolls, and we’ve really got a miniature world at our fingertips! I’m very happy I made the time to make these for my kids.

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Roll-A-Rainbow Game!

When Jax and Em were the same age as Em and Little H are now, I came across a really “sweet” game that helped them learn their numbers as well as colors, plus kept in the whole rainbow theme I like to celebrate in March.  Rainbows help me see the light at the end of this wintery tunnel, and to remember that March signifies the beginning of spring, no matter how much snow covers our sleeping flower beds!  So imagine my delight when I discovered that I had saved the “game board” from three years ago and had everything I needed to play with my three!

Roll-A-Rainbow Game @ Rub Some Dirt On It

You can see my detailed instructions for making the game board here, but I basically traced quarters on a piece of card stock in a “rainbow” formation (as best I could).  Then I colored them in rainbow order. I also made a list of which color matched a corresponding number which will be rolled by the kids on dice.

Roll-A-Rainbow @ Rub Some Dirt On It

If they roll a 1, they get to put a red M & M on one of the red circles.  If they roll a 2, an orange, etc.  6 means you can put a color of your choice on the rainbow (helps if one color is dominating) or, if the kids can’t handle the delayed gratification, they can eat a color of their choice!

Next, I took M & Ms (skittles, conversation hearts, Froot Loops, etc. would all work, too) and organized them by color.

Roll-A-Rainbow @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The kids, at this point, were chomping at the bit and literally salivating.

Roll-A-Rainbow @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Finally! You are ready to play!  Give the kids each some dice (be careful of the choking hazard) and let the good times roll!

Roll-A-Rainbow @ Rub Some Dirt On It Roll-A-Rainbow @ Rub Some Dirt On It Roll-A-Rainbow @ Rub Some Dirt On It Roll-A-Rainbow @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I love getting ready for spring this way!  Lots of colors, high spirits, and fun for everyone.  Life is sweet!

And if you like rainbow art and activities, too, there are lots more where that came from!

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Graphing Numbers With Kids, 2 Ways

Confession time: I have really enjoyed relinquishing my role as amateur homeschooler now that Jax and Em are in school.  I know that they will get a good dose of literacy, math, outdoor play, and creative fun every single day they are there, and that’s a huge burden lifted off my shoulders.  Now I can pull out a great craft, some fine motor fun, or a literacy game for the pure pleasure of it, rather than any sense of self-imposed obligation (I know, crazy Mommy).  But that also means that since I do it so infrequently, on a morning when Em bats her eyelashes and asks for something fun to do pretty please, I have no excuse but to get my act in gear.

Yesterday, after such a request, I showed her my Rub Some Dirt On It Pinterest board, where all my great ideas of the past are stored for a rainy day.  Sometimes there is a cool activity I did with Jax that I never got around to doing with Em, and she usually latches onto those.  This activity was no exception–she saw something involving blocks and construction and she wanted in.  So although I never intended to do any math games with her that morning, how can I say no to a little learning fun with my girl?

Graphing Numbers With Kids @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The first thing I did was create a sort of number line on the bottom of a piece of construction paper with Duplo block-sized columns running along the length of it.  I numbered the columns 1-9.

graphing numbers with kids @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Then, without much direction (because I love to see how my kids interpret situations such as this), I told her to stack the appropriate number of blocks in each column.  Luckily she already knows her numbers (in part because of fun activities such as this) so I didn’t have to guide her; I just sat back and watched (and of course, took pictures.  When are my kids going to realize that moms don’t normally photograph every step of every activity they play? #bloggingmomproblems).  She immediately dug into our Duplo box and began stacking away.

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I noticed a few fascinating things right away, about how she approached the activity and also how different she is from me as far as learning styles (a little metacognition first thing in the morning never hurt anyone).  First, she gravitated toward the larger Duplos with the letters and numbers on them rather than the smaller, plain ones that Jax used when he did this right away.  I knew that she was going to run out of room on the page and that her columns were going to be larger than the paper.  I wondered if that was going to bother her and whether she would start over with smaller ones once she realized it (or if she has a more relaxed attitude about boundaries than her mom because Lord knows it was driving me nuts).  Secondly, she stacked them in her hand, rather than placing them in a line on the paper (which is also contrary to how I would have done it, but definitely smarter).  I also realized before she did that she was not going to have enough blocks of that size to finish the columns.  How would she handle that?

Graphing Numbers @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Simply.  She found blocks of the same height (but different depth) and used those.  Now the OCD part of me went a little crazy and I had to restrain myself from “fixing it” for her and searching high and low for matching blocks.  It didn’t bother her, it was a perfectly appropriate solution, and Mommy definitely needs to get a life.

Meanwhile, because don’t forget there was a 1-year-old running around, I was trying to count Megablocks with Little H in a similar manner.  She does like the act of counting and usually wants to do whatever Em is doing.  She wasn’t feeling it that day, though, and when I tried to count with her (“1…2…”) she would say something random, like “nine” or “B,” and run away.  Okay, not interested.  But before I quit I asked Em if she wanted to give the same project a try with the Megablocks and she took the project to a new, 3-dimensional level.

Graphing Numbers @ Rub Some Dirt On It

It was awesome!  I was so proud of her for thinking outside the box. She really is so much more spatial than I am as a learner.  She ran into some of the same problems as before, but she solved them quickly and without any of my OCD tendencies.

Graphing Numbers @ Rub Some Dirt On It

She’s so much cooler than me.  Obviously.

When she was done, she proudly showed me her handiwork.  I asked her if she was very sure she was finished, and when she realized two of her columns were the same height, she figured out how to fix it.

I’m so proud of my Em for seeking out opportunities to learn and be creative, and for keeping me from being a lazy mama.  I am definitely lucky to have her.


I hope I can be as cool as her someday.

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Coin Sorting Fun

One of my fondest memories as a child on Easter was the chaotic egg hunts we used to have in my Nana’s backyard.  There were usually at least ten cousins on hand, and it was a cross between good-natured fun and survival of the fittest.  Picture the Cornucopia scene in the Hunger Games with Easter bonnets and you get the idea.  Why was it such a competition?  Because those eggs were not full of chocolate–they were full of money: spare change, really, but there was one egg with at least a five dollar bill, if not more.  So while we understood Easter was about Jesus rising from the dead, we also knew that we better scuff up those brand new white mary janes so that we wouldn’t have a disadvantage against our cousins on Easter morning for a chance to have the most cash for penny candy.

As dysfunctional as all that sounds, it was FUN and thus I pass along this quirky tradition to my kids every year.  There is nothing that they love more than sorting coins and putting them in their piggy bank.  My dad and Jax have a game they like to play where they check out the dates of coins and sort them by year, giving certain ones “birthday parties.”  Jax eats it up and it’s one of his favorite parts about visiting Grammy and Grampy’s.  Sometimes he brings the change home with him, and on those occasions, we have to pull out everyone’s piggy banks to add to them, but really they just want to pull all their change out and sort them by size and color.  Is that weird?

So I knew when I saw this great coin sorting idea here that I had to give it a try with their Easter money.  And you know what?  They absolutely LOVED it.  In fact, I was forbidden from throwing the sorting paper away!

Coin Sorting Math Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

So all you need to do is, using a big piece of paper, draw big circles where kids can put their dimes, quarters, pennies, and nickels separately.  I wrote the symbol and word above each circle so that could get used to recognizing both.

Coin Sorting @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I started them off by putting one of each different coins in the circles so they could compare the colors and sizes as they went along, but really, they were content to do this on their own quietly and for a really long time, figuring out what belonged where and helping each other out.

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Little H woke up and joined the fun, and before my mom has a heart attack about the baby swallowing pennies, I promise she was only allowed to stay as long as she had her binkie in her mouth!


She loves the sound of the change clanging inside the piggy bank as much as the others!

The kids noticed some cool things while doing this–like how some quarters have eagles and some have states.  They found a bunch of random “special” coins (money from other countries, pennies that have been flattened in those tourist machines) and they decided those needed a circle of their own.


And finally we talked about what would be the fastest way to count all the money.  I gave a quick explanation of multiplication, and although they definitely didn’t get it, they were at least impressed with how quickly I could figure out the sums!


I don’t know how much they learned, but they were sorting, counting, comparing, and having a blast all the while!  This is the perfect rainy day activity for all ages, and I promise you, other than interesting questions, your kids will be so engrossed with this activity you may even have time to put your feet up and enjoy some of that leftover Easter chocolate you have lying around!

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Plastic Eggs For Literacy (Repost)

 Yes, I am reposting this from last year, not because I don’t have anything to say, but because I’m pretty damn proud of these great literacy and math ideas!  Not to mention color recognition, fine motor skills…you get the point.  Read on and be glad you did, preschool parents.

(2013) The other day Em and I were putting away groceries when she discovered a bag of plastic Easter eggs that I had saved with some preschoolish activities in mind and forgotten.  So I pulled them out and repeated an activity I did with Jax a couple years back that was such a hit, I knew she’d enjoy it.

Easter Egg Literacy Games @ Rub Some Dirt On It

First I created a matching game by writing upper case and lower case letters on either side of an egg, then breaking them apart.  Her job was to scan all the eggs and find a match.


Some potential mishaps to be aware of: lower case y and h look a lot alike when turned upside down.  Probably should have made them different colors to help her notice they are not the same.


 Also, lower case b, p, q, and g are easily confused–make sure you choose different color eggs for each.  Same for w and m.


In the end you will have a rainbow of literacy that will be as much a reward for you as for them!  It’s quite an achievement!

Now when big brother came home, I had put a few eggs aside as a challenge for him (with a little fine motor skills work thrown in as a bonus).  We have made compound word eggs in the past, but this time I had a couple different ideas–number literacy and rhyming.

For Jax, I put numbers on either side of an egg, so that when I called out a number he could spin it to find the correct number.  Really helps for the confusion of “Is thirty-one 1-3 or 3-1?”


And another fun thing to do–similar to the Word Family Driving Game we played this winter–is to put the ending of common words (like -op, -ar, -it, -at) on one side of the egg and a list of letters that form a word on the other side.  These words are all in the same word family and rhyme, which is a fun and important skill to play with.


Rhyming Eggs @ Rub Some Dirt On It

All this upcycled fun with eggs you would have thrown away anyhow, or can pick up for a quarter the week after Easter!  Enjoy some time with your little ones, learning as you go!

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Popsicles & Play Dough

February vacation is here, the snow is falling like crazy, and I have had enough of my kids literally climbing all over me and telling me they’re bored.  It’s only been 2 days!  So I pulled out an old simply busy standby that we did when Em was first learning her numbers, with an added degree of difficulty for Jax: Popsicles & Play Dough!

Popsicles & Play Dough @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Basically have the kids knead and roll some play dough into a long line, then give them a bunch of Popsicle sticks numbered 1-20.  Em got 1-10 and Jax 1-20.  Then ask them to put them in order, standing upright in the play dough.

Number Line @ Rub Some Dirt On It

This is great for numeral recognition but also fine motor skills.  The kids learned that they had to pinch the play dough around the sticks to get them to stand up.  Then we added some extra challenges–numbers 11-20 and putting them in color order (by writing the colors on the back)–and I introduced Jax to the concepts of odds and evens by writing an O or E at the bottom of the sticks.  Differentiated fun for everyone!

Popsicles & Play Dough Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Of course when this was done they continued to play with the play dough, which I don’t usually love, but on a snowy day when they have had little more to say than I’m Bored! I was glad for some simple, quiet fun!  Only 5 more days of vacation to go!

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