Math on the Playground: Part #1

Parents don’t have to be math whizzes and kids don ‘t require a math gene. Math needs to be fun, and can be done anywhere: how about math on the playground?

math on the playgroundWith the weather outside really lovely this week, we walked to a neighborhood playground. On the way we happened to see someone outside pulling weeds. Right next door, another person was doing the same thing. After going down the street some more, we saw a third person. This seemed quite unusual, so we talked about it and did the math: 2 people and then 1 more, that was 3.

Big Sister liked the counting and suggested counting the cars parked on the street. During the day, there weren’t that many but we counted the few that were there. When we got to the playground, there was more math.

math on the playgroundThis playground is just a small tot-lot, so there are no swings. Zero. There are two slides tho, right side by side. There is a sort of airplane teeter-totter with 4 wings. It was really easy to talk about 2 kids and 2 empty spaces being 4. Only 1 kid and 3 empty spaces was still 4, but it wasn’t much fun. No kids and 4 empty spaces was no fun at all.

math on the playgroundA bird flew from some bushes nearby so we watched the bird and then rested in the shade. We scanned the trees for a nest but didn’t see one. Our math fun was short, but very meaningful. Other playgrounds will have different math possibilities. Kids might want to count the steps, or slide 3 times. They may beg for one hundred pushes on the swing. We can maybe get that down to ten.

No matter how much or how little math on the playground we do, we weave it into an ordinary activity. Math flows naturally in and out of the day and kids become comfortable with it. It’s no big deal. Math anxiety can be very real for some people. As parents and caregivers, no matter our own feelings about math, we can make math a part of the background for kids. This helps develop math confidence. What kind of math on the playground can you and your child do?

Check the blog tomorrow for more math fun:

10 Fun Ways Kids Can Learn to Print Numbers

Yes, learning to print numbers can be lots of fun! Here are 10 fun ways kids can learn to print numbers. These will entice even reluctant kids.

1. Printing numbers doesn’t need pens and papers. Little Sister is making some numbers in a bowl of sand. First, the sand needed to be mixed up, then patted smooth ready for either hand’s pointer finger to dive right in and draw. A paint brush worked to erase a number and do a different one.

2. Bath crayons are another way to have some number fun. According to a dad and son I know, soap crayons are also great in the shower and make cool tracks of color on the shower wall as they drip.

3. Using chalk on a sidewalk or driveway means kids can draw numbers as big as they want.

fun ways to print numbers4. Painting numbers can be done with brushes, fingers, or paint dabbers. For something very cool, kids can paint on ice with either food coloring or an eye dropper of color. This block of ice was water frozen overnight in a sandwich container and set on a disposable plate.

5. Give kids a squirt bottle and a pail of water. They can squirt numbers on the patio, a retaining wall, or maybe the fence.

fun ways to print numbers6. A stick in the mud can be a good thing. It makes a giant pencil for drawing numbers on a beach or in the mud.

7. A chopstick, plastic picnic knife, or other small  kitchen tool can be used to make numbers in plasticine or play dough.

8. Spread some ketchup on a plate and let kids draw numbers with french fries or zucchini sticks.

9. For dessert, let kids cover a plate with a thin layer of chocolate pudding. Fingers draw numbers and kids lick fingers.

10. Mix up a batch of cookie dough, the kind that you roll and cut out. Kids can very gently draw one number on each cookie. With other cookies, kids can try a squirt of icing to do numbers once the cookies are baked.

These are not just fun, but very sensory and creative too. With so many plays-of-the-day and ways kids can learn to print numbers, could we say your days are numbered?

Math Fun: Songs for Counting

Did you know that singing about numbers is a powerful math activity for young children? There are many wonderful songs for counting and numbers. You can sing them with your child anywhere, anytime, in any language.

songs for countingSongs for counting are easy to sing and repetitive. Some suggestions are: 5 Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed, The Ants Go Marching, This Old Man, Three Little Kittens, Five Little Ducklings, Five Green Speckled Frogs, One Elephant-Deux Eléphants, Hickety Pickety My Red Hen, and 10 in the Bed, and more. To add to the fun and learning, there are rhymes like 1, 2 Buckle My Shoe. You can use any words that rhyme. Reminders that kids do not jump on beds may be needed countless times.

One Potato, Two Potato is a circle game for three or more to play. One person is It and curls a hand into a fist like a potato. The other players sit in a circle and make a hand into a potato. Whoever is It starts the chant, and each time s/he says a word, goes around the circle tapping the top of each fist. Everyone says the chant together: 1 potato, 2 potato, 3 potato, 4, 5 potato, 6 potato, 7 potato, more. The word ‘more’ means that player gets to be It and the game starts again.

songs for countingThe video below is similar but counts One Banana, Two Bananas, all the way to 10. Instead of bananas, ask kids to think of something else, like peaches, oranges, apples, grapes, strawberries, carrots, peppers, and keep counting.

Ever sing a kids’ song and get it stuck in your head? That’s exactly what makes them so effective. When kids sing about counting, the numbers get stuck in their brains. Learning to count accurately needs many, many experiences with numbers. Opportunities to count really count and help develop number sense. Singing songs about numbers adds a note of fun. What counting songs do you and your child sing?

Children’s Books and Stories for Counting

Counting is one of children’s early math activities; there are some wonderful children’s books and stories for counting to encourage this developing skill. When children are first starting to count, they are imitating what we do and saying the numbers. Sharing books and stories with them gives them opportunities to practice and figure out what … Continue reading Children’s Books and Stories for Counting

Math Fun: Counting Activities for Kids and Counts

Including lots of counting activities for kids helps them feel comfortable with math. We all want kids to have math confidence instead of math anxiety. (We also want that for grownups.) What can parents and caregivers do? We can be like Count von Count and have fun with counting. Here are 10 ordinary, everyday counting … Continue reading Math Fun: Counting Activities for Kids and Counts

Math Confidence Instead of Math Anxiety in Kids

Math anxiety in kids isn’t rare and can occur very early, affecting up to 1 in 4 kids. Kids don’t need a math gene to have a confident attitude to math. (Zorbit’s Math Adventure) They need lots of fun and play opportunities with math. Children learn from everyday, ordinary experiences. As parents and caregivers, we … Continue reading Math Confidence Instead of Math Anxiety in Kids