# math

## Art Fun: Math and Art for Kids

Just in case there are any concerns about art not being academic enough, here are some ways to combine math and art for kids for great learning and fun.

Sorting and matching is a skill needed for both math and science. For some math and art for kids, set out a jumble of different materials, glue, and a thick paper or piece of light cardboard. Kids can glue the items to the paper in groups. Some things to use could be bread tags, seeds, cheerios, yarn, bits of paper, sequins, etc. Some kids will make pictures using all the items rather than sorting them, which is another way to create art. Big Sister is finding some buttons to use.

Shapes and patterns are part of both math and art. Let kids create patterns with blocks, lego, colored sticks, colored paper, yarn, or crayons. Younger preschoolers will make simple patterns using two items or colors. Older children can make more complex ones using three or four items or maybe pairs or a different combination. The brain loves patterns because they condense large amounts of information into much easier to remember chunks.

Geometry is part of math and art. Children can use shapes to make pictures, either with all the same shapes of combining different ones. They can use a variety of materials too. Like paper, wood, or plastic. For more shape activities, here is another blog post: Shape Activities for Kids.

Symmetry is important in math. Have a look at some pictures of butterfly wings. The colors and shapes are beautiful and one side is just like the other. Kids can make butterflies by painting on half of a paper, folding it over, and smooshing it down.  They can draw or color too. When opened, the two sides will be the same.

Double doodle drawing is another way to have fun with symmetry and for this both hands get to draw at the same time. This is very tricky and quite a challenge for brains. (See Double Doodle Art Play Activity)

Every child can benefit from art play. By combining math and art for kids, we appeal to a wide array of interests. Can you suggest some other math and art activities?

## March into Fun: Magic, Math, and Leprechauns

Stories of leprechauns, rainbows, pots of golds, 3 wishes, and magical powers are especially appealing to children because kids are also little people. So much of their lives is controlled by adults that children feel they have no power at all. This idea is suggested in many stories where the children get swallowed up. Leprechauns, despite their small size, can do magic and that is a deeply-held wish of kids.

There are many books and stories about leprechauns and other Irish traditions and folklore. Who else likes gold besides leprechauns? Pirates, of course, and Master Anonymous writes about their adventures in The Pirates and the Leprechaun.

One of my favorite stories is The Wishing of Biddy Malone by Joy Cowley. Her signature in the book reminds me of the treasure of our shared experience. Biddy Malone thinks she has been granted three wishes but has to work long and hard for them to come true. She learns how her own effort creates the treasure.

Besides tricks and pots of gold, there are stories about rainbows, potatoes, shamrocks and even Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.

Leprechauns can do magic with their gold and so can kids. Another name for this kind of magic is math. Since we don’t have piles of gold around the house, we can use buttons, coins, or even cheerios.

• For younger kids the magic is turning one thing into more and more and more. First, find 10 of something, such as buttons. Take one button from your hand, show your child and say “Here is one button. Take another and say “Here is one button,” again. Keep doing, spreaing the buttons out.

Here comes the magic. Even though each time there was one button, all together there are many more. Slide the buttons into a line and, with your child, count each one. Now, there are 10 buttons. Lots of ones made ten. One here, and one there, and another one over here and so on all made ten. That’s magic. It’s also called number sense where kids figure out that each number means one thing.

• For older kids, you can do magic when counting by twos. Put buttons or other items in groups of two. To count, you only need to say one number but you count two things.
• Using a few more of whatever you are counting, you can show your child how to count by 5 or even by 10.

There’s a video below of a leprechaun counting gold by ones, twos, fives, and tens along with a song. Maybe that’s the treasure at the end of the rainbow, that kids can do their own magic?

## Valentine Math Fun and Games with Cards

An ordinary deck of playing cards can be fun for kids of different ages and used in a variety of ways for some math fun and games for Valentines. This play-of-the-day can happen practically anywhere.

Very young children may only want to turn cards over and spread them out, but they will notice the different colors and shapes. We can point to the number and say it for them. Little one are soon able to pick out the cards with 1 and 2 and hearts and diamonds are probably the easiest shapes. For older kids, sorting the cards into two color piles with all the reds and all the blacks is one way to play with cards. Making suits of hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades requires kids to look carefully at the shapes.

Some kids are really into numbers and like to count the number of designs on cards. Ask your child which card has more little things on it? Kids can make a number line with the cards from 1 to 10 in each suit. Once kids have the idea of more, it’s fun to play a card game like Which Number is Bigger? or The More the Merrier, also known as War or Gotcha.

Another game is Concentration or Memory. For this choose a few pairs of cards. Young children and adults like me who are not very good only need 5 or 6 pairs. Others can do 10 or more pairs of cards. Go Fish is a good game for two or more people as kids practice making pairs. Since it’s Valentines, these games could be called Friends and kids have to find the card that matches its friend.

Besides math, kids are also using lots of social skills such as taking turns, waiting for the other people, and sharing, all things that hearts need to know. Do you have a deck of cards for some fun with your little valentines?