Raining Hearts Math

This is my favorite Valentines activity yet, and I have had oh-so-many favorites.  Based on one of our favorite books, The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond and a great idea I found here, the kids and I did some snipping (as Em calls cutting), pasting, and a bit of math and writing as well!

Raining Hearts Math @ Rub Some Dirt On It

While I assembled our materials (construction paper, card stock, markers, glue, scissors), Jax read the book to his sisters.  He is such a sweet and smart big brother!


Then I let the kids pick out which pattern they’d like for their umbrella as well as what color hearts they’d like (Jax chose red, Em chose purple, of course).  I let them cut out their own umbrellas and glue them to the paper while I cut out the handles.  Then I impressed the heck out of them by showing them how to make many little hearts by folding paper; every time I made the final snip and a bunch of hearts fell onto the table, Jax and Em gasped like there were fireworks.

They pasted their hearts above their umbrellas as though it were raining…


…and then we did a bit of math, just for fun.  Jax says he really loves “hard math, like 11 +12,” so we counted the red and purple hearts and wrote it out.  Just simple addition, but it is a first for Em to see it written out that way.



They both wrote in their numbers and colors, which is more writing than Jax usually does in one sitting.  It’s all in capturing his interest, I suppose!  Don’t they look wonderful?  I just love that Em chose to make a cheetah umbrella.  She’s a sassy one, that girl.


 Take cover, everyone!  It’s raining hearts!

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Legos For Counting

Oh, Pinterest.  How you absorb me.  There are some ideas that I put out there that I think will be a huge hit, and they have one or two measly repins every now and then.  Then there are some that are repinned on practically a daily basis and I think, Really?  That is what people like best?  It intrigues me because it helps me keep in mind the art of blogging and what it is people respond to–and although I am writing for myself and for my family and followers, I do like the validation that comes with having a great craft or project get repinned a couple zillion times.  I mean, I’m sure I will, once it’s actually happened.

So when a very simple idea I had pinned from Rockabye Butterfly became one of my most popular pins, I thought, I have to stop staring at this pin and just do it myself!

It’s a very straightforward way to play with math concepts, and since I can only contemplate teaching my kids math in the most fundamental ways possible, I thought it would be right up our alley.  Of course, not everyone was as enthusiastic at first…

…mostly because he and I are in the middle of a battle entitled, I’m Not Going To Eat My Lunch and Then I Will Whine All Afternoon About Being Hungry Even Thought You Told Me If I Didn’t Eat My Lunch I Wouldn’t Have Anything Else Until Dinner.  Familiar with that game?  Yeah, it’s fun.

So to distract from my four-year-old and his challenges, I pulled out a piece of paper, broke it down in nine columns and labeled each with a Lego symbol and number.  Then I busted out our big box o’ Legos and hoped I had enough single Legos to accomplish my goal.  I didn’t–I was two short, of course, but Jax and I had a quick conversation about it and he was ready to proceed, putting one Lego in the column marked 1, two Legos in the column marked 2, and so on.   Rocking 1:1 correspondence and all that.

Until finally all 9 columns were filled with the appropriate amount of Legos per column.  You could take this as far as you want with colors, too, but since my kid seems to be a tad OCD all on his own, he did a fine job of sorting by colors without my assistance.

And there you have it–a simply busy idea that can be done by preschoolers with very little direction, with so many bonuses to boot–fine motor skills, kinesthetic learning, colors, numbers, patterns.  Oh, the possibilities are endless!  Now let’s see if people like my version and pin it as often as before!  You go first!

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Number Recognition Fun

Since it was -15 degrees when we woke up this morning and gradually warmed from -9 to a balmy zero while Em and I were doing errands, I thought it might be the right kind of day to share a fun indoor activity that I stole from Taming the Goblin that doesn’t require you to go outside at all!  Just stay home, bunker down, and have some learning fun with your preschoolers!

Em is still inconsistent with her number recognition–sometimes she knows them all, sometimes I swear she’s never seen them before.  I liked this game because it puts the numbers in context–a clock, in this example–so she can recognize them–but also it’s fine motor practice and physically manipulating the numbers so she can do more than just look at them.

Cape, pigtails, and toenail polish optional.

Basically, all I did was put numbers on the bottom of plastic cups and see if she could arrange them in order after I had mixed them up.

When indeed she showed me she could,

I tried the same thing putting the numbers in a circle like a clock.  She had no problems with that, either, so I thought I’d see if she could match the written number on the cup to a quantity.  In this case, I pulled out some pom poms and she put one in the cup with the number 1 on it, two in the cup with the number 2 on it, and so on.  I’m not sure what this taught her, but I wanted her to understand that each number symbolizes a quantity, and to demonstrate what that quantity is.  Of course she just wanted to play with pom poms!

I was also curious to see if she would think that the cups that were more full had more pom poms (because they were all different sizes, there could be 9 small pom poms that would be teeny compared to one large one).  She understood that in order to see which had more, she had to count the pom poms, not just see which one looked like it had more.

And as I always say whenever I attempt to have fun with math: this is not my forte or my comfort zone.  I don’t even know if what we’re doing is valuable, other than me spending time focusing on just my girl.  What I do know is that making my kids comfortable with letters and numbers can’t possibly hurt in terms of school preparedness, and if I can find a way to do that in multiple ways using various learning styles, I may just be putting our quiet time to good use!  Plus, it was fun!

Hope I helped you create a simple way to play with your child indoors this winter, and maybe you’ll learn a thing or two!  If you come up with any other cool variations on this idea, please let me know!  Keeping learning light is part of our plans for the new year!

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More Or Less

Sometimes I ask my kids to do really obvious things to kill time–things I would never in a million years think that they would a) be intrigued by b) want to do or c) be enthusiastic about doing.  But since I’m wrong about 50% of the time, I always ask.  Because you never know when a lame attempt at getting your kids to clean up will turn into an impromptu math lesson!

All I had to say was, I think there are more pink blocks than red blocks in this room.  Boo-yah.  Jax picked red, Em picked purple (the dark pink/purpley blocks), and we basically began to make a bar graph.  When we stood above it and looked down, the kids got a great visual on which line had more or less, terms that (as a former high school teacher) I would have never thought needed explanation but, as I’m realizing, are concepts that reinforcement and fun can take a long way.

My favorite moment was when these two colors were neck and neck and Jax jumped up and down, yelling “They’re equal!”  So that’s why people send kids to preschool!  To teach them cool vocabulary words and concepts that wouldn’t have occurred to me to be appropriate for four-year-olds.  Guess I have a thing or two to learn!

This kept Jax out of trouble for at least a half hour.  It was a game and a race to him–he so wanted red to win!  Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards.  It was great to be able to talk about which colors had more or less and to make hypotheses about whether the pink or the purple would win based on a general glance around the room.  Lots of science and math going on in this simple activity!  At least, I think so–remember, I’m an English/literacy girl.  This kind of stuff definitely isn’t in my wheelhouse.  Lucky for me, my kids are up for anything!

And then at the end we counted how many blocks were in each line; since the blocks were all different sizes, some had much more or fewer than we expected.  Like these three lines, which all had seven blocks, but were different lengths.  Not sure what he learned from that, probably something mathematical, but I thought it was pretty cool.

A simple way to take a pile of blocks, and turn it into simple fun!  And with Em there chiming in every now and then and Jax showing me that he understands more than even I anticipated, you never know what simple fun can do for your kids–more than you could imagine!

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More Math Fun

Still trying to find some time to play with math. My heart’s not in it–I’m a language girl–but I’m doing my best to keep it fair.

I do love fine motor fun and Jax loves clothespins, so clipping the correct number of clothespins on a number wheel was pretty basic for him, but engaging. We chatted as he went and it was kind of easy fun. And learning fun. Not a bad way to spend some time.

If you want to know where I got the printables, go here and follow the link for this one and many more.

After a while he wanted to move on to something different, so we worked on numeral recognition with raisins and googly eyes.  Em woke up and joined the fun, and I think this was the perfect math play for her.  She’s still shaky on recognizing numbers, even after she rocked this activity, so I think math fun should be something we do all of us together instead of during her nap time.

I will keep plugging along as long as they like it, and they do, so we will.  Making learning fun, one raisin at a time!

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Play-Doh Number Line

Remember my commitment to increasing my kids’ number awareness instead of just focusing on literacy?  Well we’re taking baby steps around here–in fact, I started with the very basic idea of literal number awareness: can they recognize and organize numerals in a number line, or do they just know how to count?  I figured it was worth finding it, and so I enlisted a great idea I found here and the kids and I made our own number lines out of Play-Doh and craft sticks.

I was certain Jax could identify the numbers 1-12, but the teens can be a bit tricky.  And I didn’t know if Em knew her numbers at all!  So I wrote the numbers 1-10 on craft popsicle sticks for Em, and numbers 1-20 for Jax.

Then they chose some Play-Doh and we rolled them into snakes (which took forever–every time we had ones ready, they’d rip them up as soon as my back was turned).  Finally they were ready and the number organizing could begin.

Em really surprised me–up until then I really hadn’t thought she knew her numbers.  She can count but I didn’t think she knew her numerals at all.  But she did!   She knew them all!  And with a little help from me helping her count the order, she finished her number line in no time.

Jax, on the other hand, got held up a bit around 14–although I think it was more because of laziness than lack of understanding–so I made him a list of the last few numbers so he could sort them out on his own.

Which he did, and when he was done, he was really proud!

Meanwhile, Em was getting bored waiting for him, but was still interested in the idea, so I just flipped her sticks over and made a new challenge for her to keep her busy.  Differentiated, I guess you could say.

This required a little help from big brother because I don’t think she even realized that colors have an order, plus she had to stop to have a bunny break.

But eventually they worked as a team to put the sticks in rainbow order.  Then the lure of the markers was too much for them and they abandoned the mathematical ship.  However, it was fun while it lasted, and I saved the sticks for another rainy day, when I remember that there’s more to life than reading!

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Manipulating Math

Since I used to be an English teacher in another life, it’s no surprise that my kids are reading rockstars.  Lately, though, I’ve realized that there’s more to learning than reading and writing–don’t forget good old ‘rithmetic.  So when I saw these pre-k number worksheets at Confessions of a Homeschooler, I had to print them out (and yes, laminate them.  Say it with me–dork).  Head over there to print your own!

We have only tackled one set so far, and it was about all Jax could handle in one sitting.  There were pages with numbers and their words underneath them, and then separate letters to print out and place over the words to spell them and work on number recognition.  I thought it might be a good way to step into math because Jax already knows how to read all these words and can spell most of them on his own.

Each word is a different color, so to make it easier, I wrote “purple” next to the one, “pink” next to the two, etc. so that Jax knew which letters match which worksheet.  It was also a good chance to work on the idea of light and dark colors, since there are two sets of green and blue in the set.

Then Jax put the letters over the words themselves–each box had a letter inside to spell the words one, two, there, etc.  This was just matching, but it was still good for Jax.  We went over how to spell the words after he successfully matched them, and he felt really good about himself when he was done.

Then we tried something trickier–he had to put the words under the correct number in blank boxes, so he was actually spelling instead of just matching.  In some cases, this was more difficult than others.

He wasn’t frustrated when he spelled a word wrong–in fact, he was challenged.  He started closing his eyes to think about the word before he tried to spell it…

…then I would say, “Ready?” and he’s say, “Ready!”  Then I had to say (under his command), “BUILD IT!” really loudly, and he’d jump into action.  When he’d spell it right, he’d say, “YES!” then high-five or fist-bump me, whichever struck his fancy.

I know that this seems like just a spelling game, not about math at all, but I think it’s important to have kids be able to identify both the words and the symbols for numbers.  We also talked about all kinds of things while he spelled, like how many letters were in the words, which were bigger or smaller, more or less.  We also play the card game War to work on these concepts, too.  They may seem like simple ideas, but are definitely something kids need to learn, not just hear in passing.

So that was our first formal math lesson.  I will try to do more and let you know how it goes!  He seems intrigued for now–hopefully it’ll continue!

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