In every store you can find activity books for math and numbers or you can find all types of printouts online. However, there are many ways that we can incorporate math into our kid’s daily routine as well. In a recent conversation with my son’s teacher she shared with me that he had been telling her that she needed to teach him something. That’s because every evening during dinner we ask him what he learned in school and his usual response is, “I don’t learn anything… I only play,” to which we reply “make sure you learn something tomorrow.” As parents, we know that he just probably doesn’t remember and I thought it was cute that he told his teacher that he needed to learn something. His teacher went on to explain to him, and to make sure that I also knew, that although it may seem like he’s only playing, he’s also learning.
In the same spirit, we will carry out our learning of math. Math was never my strong suit simply because I was afraid of its complexity and I didn’t see how it applied to my daily life. So that’s what we will be doing… having fun with it and applying it to daily activities. One daily activity that we can do with our kids that involves math is baking and cooking by measuring out ingredients. Not to mention that this is a great opportunity to teach some valuable skills, the obvious being cooking, but also following instructions and safety. Kids love the sense of accomplishment and being able to make something together is one of the best ways to spend some fun quality time while learning.
Having kids in the kitchen can become a bit overwhelming if you don’t plan ahead so the best way to go about baking and/or cooking with children is to plan ahead (here are also 25 additional tips for cooking with kids). Find a simple recipe ahead of time and make sure you have all the ingredients at home (grocery shopping itself can be another learning opportunity if you involve them in the process) and simply make sure that it’s something that they can be actively involved with mixing, pouring, measuring out, and that it’s something that they’ll enjoy eating in the end. Since we’ve decided to go with an alphabet theme for the summer I’m going to try to find recipes that go with the letter of the day (that’s my OCD personality). I’ll probably have them help me with something they can either enjoy for lunch or later on for dessert because that’ll just simplify my life. I’ll have “pages” set up on the blog where you can find recipes A-Z along with other resources and websites that can facilitate you throughout your planning.
Aside from our daily routine there are also ways we can incorporate math into play time. All decisions I make, I try to make it purposeful (again… it’s probably my OCD). So when it comes to toys I try to find ones that are going to serve multiple purposes, such as Montessori toys where you can play and use your imagination but that are also educational. Some of my favorite toys are by Melissa & Doug, such as the pretend food that you can cut and their clock made out of different shapes.
Here you have a triple-whammy, you get to work on fine motor skills, pretend cook and you can even sneak in some fractions by cutting two fourths of the carrot… see where I’m getting at here? As parents we just need to be creative and find tools/toys/random objects we can utilize to teach with.
Now let’s take math outdoors. Let’s also combine it with working on our gross motor skill of balancing by counting in hopscotch.
All you’ll need is some sidewalk chalk and dice. I’ve been told that you can find some jumbo dice at the Dollar Store, which I haven’t found yet, you can make your own out of foam, or just use smaller dice (here’s a trick of how not to lose small dice). For younger children you can use two dice and they can add both dice up and hop the total number, which equals fun! If your child is older you can add a third dice with a subtraction, addition, multiplication, and/or division and then they hop to the answer (I think I picked that up that little twist on PBS?). Now that is some serious learning. These are just a few ideas, just to get our creative juices flowing, but as we find new and interesting ways of teaching math we can share them with one another and I’ll be sure to post them on the Math & Numbers page. Feel free to ask any questions, my mind is already racing to the next subjects so I’m sure I might have missed a few things.