Preparing for the Winged Visitors Coming Back from the Winter: Pouring, Measuring, Classifying, and Counting.


At this time of year, it might be snowing where you live, but not here.  The weather is slowly getting warmer and the birds are coming back from homes during the Winter time and they are hungry!  So why not prepare something for them and turn it into a mathematics lesson?

You can either make your own bird feeder and bird seed mix or purchase them from the store.  Get some measuring cups, a ruler/measuring tape, and go outside to have some fun!

First, take a look at the bird seed mix.  What shapes do you see?  Do you see some circles and ovals?  Do you see some triangles, spheres, or curvilinear triangles?  What colors do you see?  How many different types of seeds do you see?  Could you sort them out if I gave you a cup of that bird seed?  How would you sort them?

Next, have your child look at the measuring cup and estimate how many cups of bird seed it will take to fill up the feeder. Remember what your estimate is and now begin to count how many cups of birdseed it takes to fill up the feeder.

Then,  how many inches, or rulers tall, or building bricks tall, or hands tall is the bird feeder?  Where are we putting the feeder and how long of a string do we need?


Once you have your feeder up, let the fun begin by observing what birds come to use it.  It might take a day, or two before the birds come, but it will be a great experience to see how many birds a day visit the feeder.  What colors do the birds have?  How big are the birds?  How many different birds come visit the feeder?

This whole math lesson may take 5 to 15 minutes from start to finish and it is worth it.  Something very simple and so many mathematical ideas to explore!  Have fun with this and with your child(ren)!


Something to Think About:  

This activity can be adapted for any age of child and learning stage for the child.  You know your child(ren) better than I do 🙂  So, you may want to not ask so many questions, maybe use three.  If you have older children, they can make charts to categorize and keep track of the kinds of birds they see.  They can also name the types of seeds and birds as well.

Whether or not the weather is right at the moment, the birds will still be hungry and you are inviting the birds to come to you 🙂  The kids and you can even practice different bird calls and whistles by listening to them as well!  Get yourself and your child(ren) outside to explore the Mathematics around you and have fun!



copyright 2017 Christina Grossman. All Rights Reserved



Learning About Red, Green, Black, and Time. What’s in Your Garden?





A garden is just a garden, right?  What is so interesting about a garden?  Well, what you grow in the garden can teach your children many things like the fact that colors can have flavor, texture, and smell.  A garden can teach you about how time can be measured more than with days, weeks, and months.  So what’s in the garden?

For my current little one in the house, we were fortunate to pick some tomatoes and watermelon from a garden that we help at once a week during late summer and fall.  This was a perfect opportunity to teach my daughter about the color red, green, black.

Before giving the fruit, or vegetable to your child, describe the color.  Not all watermelons are red inside.  Not all tomatoes are red either.  Even on the same fruit, or vegetable there can be multiple colors.  Point those out 🙂

Learning about a color of a fruit, or vegetable is very important because they learn when it is ripe to eat, or best to eat it.  Talking about when a tomato gets red and what color is it when it begins to grow is very important to learn and it gives them the opportunity to understand why certain colors of food is so important to know before eating it.  Why do we not eat the tomato when it is green?  We eat celery when it is green, why not tomatoes?

To learn about flavor of a fruit or vegetable, it is easy to just have the child eat it.  For smell, have the child smell it and ask it the smell and taste are the same, or different.  For example, some people can tell if they are smelling cilantro, but the taste to them is like eating grass.

On another thought, what does the rind, which is green, taste like when you take a bite of it?  What anything green taste like and smell like?  How about the color black?  Black berries and black cherries are great examples of black fruit!  What about a banana that goes from green, to yellow, to brown, to black?  What does a banana taste like and smell like when it is those colors and when would we eat them, or use them to cook with?  In other words, give your child the experience to find out these certain characteristics of food that we sometimes take for granted.

For texture, I know people who might describe a tomato has mushy, slimy, or juicy.  It just depends on the person who is tasting that tomato at that moment.  The same can go for a the texture of watermelon.  🙂

So what does color, smell, texture, and taste have to do with learning about math?  When we take the little moments to help our children understand the relevance of color, smell, texture, and taste of what we eat, we are giving our children an opportunity to understand the world they are living in.  By also taking the time to explore the characteristics of fruit and vegetables we prepare the child to use more vocabulary in describing something.  In mathematics, exploration, understanding relevance, finding more ways to describe something, and looking for patterns is very important.

Think about time for a moment, time can be measured by seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years.  But when we look at vegetables and fruit, time can also be measured in the color that a vegetable turns.  Time can also be measured in terms of the texture and smell that a certain vegetable and fruit produces.  It is very important to understand time this way because it teaches us to understand when a certain vegetable, or fruit from our garden is ready to eat.

When we can think of different ways to describe what goes on in our world, like produce from the garden, the more interested we might become in exploring other situations around us.  The more different ways we can see a garden, the deeper the understanding we can develop about how a garden works and what goes on in a garden and this can all start with your little one.

Something to Think About:

Mathematics becomes more interesting when we think it is connected to things in our life because it really is.  When we give our children the opportunity to see it in their early years, the less of a struggle it will be when they get older.  We all, at some point, need to know why we need to learn something and that, my friend, is called relevance.

I have come across this need for relevance many times when I taught students in the classroom, also other teachers in mathematics, with my own learning, and with my children. We all want to know why we need to learn something and that is a good thing.   When we see that it is part of our everyday life, then we are more open to learning about it.  All this, from a garden.  So what’s in your garden?

copyright 2016 learning math with mom

copyright 2016 learning math with mom


When the Only Way Your Child Learns Shapes is if it’s Pink: Adapting to Our Children


It was that time to teach my daughter her shapes.  I tried the shape cards to show her what is a circle, a square, a triangle, and the rest of the shapes.  When we went to the grocery store, I pointed out items that were in the shape of a circle, a square, a rectangle, and such.  She did not seem interested, but I continued to do it.

The same went for colors.  The only color she wanted to learn was the color pink. It was a few months, but then she opened up to purple.  After that, she was interested in red, but her favorite color was pink.  So I went along with her favorite color and wanted to use that to help her get interested in learning her shapes.

One morning, I picked out the pink shapes for each different shape and she was so excited! From then on, we work on the pink shapes because for now, that is what works. As for counting  items from 1 through 10, they are the color pink.  🙂

Here is the link to the shape cards that are in color in both English and Spanish:

2 dimensional shape flash cards in English

Click to access 2dimensionalshapeflashcardswithellipse.pdf

2 dimensional shape flash cards in Spanish

Click to access 2dimensionalshapeflashcardsinspanish.pdf


Something to Think About:

Just because my daughter is a girl, did not automatically mean that she was going to like the color pink.  I am female and prefer the color blue.  Your son might like the color pink and your daughter might like orange.  The point being is that certain colors should not be assumed that a certain gender will like them.  We all , young and older, have different interests.  With that, use your child’s interest as a tool for learning.

Remember that we also learn at different times.  It is not about getting to the finish line first, it is about actually getting there.  Take the time to do a little bit each day, or each week to work with your child on mathematics.  If it becomes frustrating, take a breath and come back to it at another time.

The mathematics is already there, whether it is time to make a meal, play outside, or shop for groceries.  The more we make mathematics as a part of our life, the more relevant it will become to your child to learn and understand.


copyright 2016 learning math with mom



Biggest to Smallest: Comparing Things from Nature in any Season! Even in Color and Shape



Here in the desert area, we do not normally have Autumn weather like other parts of the country during the months of September through November, but some of the trees do change color and drop their leaves. At our house, we have a tall Sycamore tree with leaves of various sizes that really should not be in the desert, but has survived all this time through tons of watering and care. So, I took this opportunity for this Autumn Season to have the boys pick up some of the fallen leaves and pick their favorites.

At this time, my boys are 4 and 3 years old. Picking up leaves, for them, is really not too much to ask for from mommy. J As we brought them in, we talked about the colors they saw on each of the leaves, counted the number of points on each leaf, and I was wondering if they would be able to choose the biggest leaf to the smallest leaf. Looking at the picture above, there are only seven leaves, which is a good number of one thing to compare for a 4 and 3-year-old. Any more than ten might be a bit much, especially if it is the afternoon before nap time.

Placing one leaf on the floor, I asked them if this was the biggest leaf. It was not. I kept asking questions and listened to what they had to say. As this kept going back and forth, back and forth, it took about five to eight minutes to get what you see on the picture. Here are questions that I asked the boys that resulted in the above picture:

  1. Which one is the biggest leaf, this one, or that one? Why?
  2. Which one is the next biggest leaf?
  3. Which of the leaves is the smallest? How can you tell?
  4. What about this leaf? Is this bigger or smaller than the first leaf on the floor? (you can overlap the leaf, one on top of the other, to see which one is bigger or smaller).
  5. What if we did smallest to biggest, what would that look like?



For the rest of the world that has a real winter, here are some ideas that you might want to take advantage of when comparing things in nature from biggest to smallest. Although most of the fallen leaves are gone or underneath snow, it would be a great time to also talk about color and why some leaves are still green and on the tree, instead of gone or brown.

  1. Pinecones! If you have different conifers near you, take some fallen pine cones and compare them. Take a look at the way the pine cones are created. Do you see spirals? What shapes do you see?
  2. Snowballs! Before a snowball fight, make some that are small and big and compare them.       This is a great way to start exploring 3-D shapes! What solids/3-D shapes can you make with snow and how? What 3-D shapes are easier to make than others and why?
  3. Icicles! With this one, you need to be careful and very cautious because icicles can be really dangerous to be underneath. From a distance, you can compare the length of the icicles and also look at what shapes they are. This is a special treat because you can explore these from inside a warm house too!





Spring is my all time favorite season because it is a time where everything comes back to life and it is cool and warm enough to go outside and explore! Why not look at different things outside and compare them. Make it like a scavenger hunt to find different flowers, leaves, and rocks. Then bring them all together and compare. What colors do you see? What shapes do you see?

  1. Flowers
  2. Green leaves
  3. Vegetables in the garden
  4. Plants




This special season can be a way to get out of the heat and explore things in different parts of the country on a vacation, or even at the local zoo.   Compare things from biggest to smallest and you will find that your children will have an interesting way of thinking about what big is and small is and tall is. It also depends if something is standing upright or on the ground flat. If you can go to the zoo or look up pictures of animals, compare the size, colors, and shapes of the animals as well 🙂

  1. Sea Shells
  2. Flowers
  3. Zoo Animals

Where is this on the Schedule of Activities from 18 months to 3 years of age?


  1. Wednesday on Big and Small
  2. Mondays on Shapes

Where is this on the Schedule of Activities from 3 years to 5 years of age?


  1. Monday on Shapes
  2. Tuesday on Measurement (if you are using a device to compare measurements, like a ruler)
  3. Thursday on Geometry of 2D and 3D
  4. Tuesday ( that I will soon add on Tuesdays is comparisons)

  1. Thursday on Geometry of 2Dand 3D
  2. Tuesday ( that I will soon add on Tuesdays is comparing)


Something to Think About:

Mathematics is not always learned on paper or with technology, though these things are great in their own moments. The reason why most of us explore the world of mathematics is because nature provides this outside. Nature, in every season, is a playground of math waiting to be played and explored. So, take advantage of what is outside your door. Even if it is that single tree outside, rocks, or flowers. Go outside with your kids and start asking questions. Show your kids how to look at things around them and to take notice of the math that is there. Sure, I know we need to clean the house or we are busy trying to figure out how to manage everything, but just take a moment to go outside and breathe. These moments are not only a way of learning about the mathematics, but making memories with your kids. These are priceless moments with our kids.

As an idea, even if you cannot go outside, or have a local zoo in your area, just print out the pictures in this blog or read this with your kids and start comparing; start asking questions. At least this gives you time together and gives you time to slow down and breathe, making memories. 🙂

copyright 2014 learning math with mom

copyright 2014 learning math with mom

Color, More Color, and Sneak in a 3


This was a short lesson that I did not do with my oldest, but with my second child.  At that time, he was 18 months to 2 years old.  The focus was to teach him how to name and identify his colors, but it turned out to be a double lesson on the quantity of 3.  I had done other learning explorations on color before with him.  This in particular was something to check to see if he actually could identify the colors now.

On the whiteboard, I wrote the names of the colors in their own colors because I had the luxury of having different colored whiteboard markers.  You can easily do this with crayons and white paper, or chalk on a chalkboard.  Something that would be really fun is to use window markers or dry erase markers on your window, or sliding door.  🙂

I happened to have a plastic connecting inch worm that had the colors I wanted to focus on.  Each color had 3 segments and so I pulled those apart and placed them on the rug.  I grabbed an inch segment and asked my child if this was orange, purple, blue, green, brown, yellow, or red.  Using blue painter’s tape, I tape the segment by the appropriate word of that color.  Then I asked my child what color the next one was until I had at least one segment for each color, except the brown, which I will explain later.  Once each color, except for brown, had a matching segment, I picked up another colored segment from the rug and asked him what color it was.  Then I asked him to match it to the one on the whiteboard and taped it up there once he got it.  Getting back to the color brown, my plastic inch worm did not have brown segments, so I took a happy meal prize that was in the bucket of toys and asked him what color this one was.  It was of course brown and so that was taped beside the corresponding word.  So this is a good example that you don’t need to go out and buy a plastic inch worm, you can use toys that are already in your house.

After everything was taped on the whiteboard, I made another column to place the number of each segments for each color.  I asked him to count with mommy to find out how many green segments we have on the board….”one, two, three”.  Then I wrote the number 3 beside it in the column.  This was repeated until we hit the brown toy.  In this case, we counted one and wrote the number 1 in the column next to it.  Yellow was of course 3.

Something like this can be done in a snap.  This probably took 10 to 15 minutes to do with my child.  At that age, that is all the attention span you are given!

Where is this on the Schedule of Activities 0-18 months?


  1. Tuesday for Colors
  2. Wednesday for Counting

Where is this on the Schedule of Activities 18 months-3 years? 


  1. Monday-Friday for Colors
  2. Tuesday for Numbers

Something To Think About:

If you do not think you have 10 to 15 minutes of an attention span, then do what you can with what you have.  Even 5 minutes focusing on a couple of colors and small quantities is great.  Focus on colors in the morning and after nap time, focus on the quantity.  You can do this over and over again with different quantities and colors if you want.  Whatever you are able to do at home with your child, I think it’s great!

Again, as a parent, we might think we need to hurry up on teaching certain things to our children so that they won’t fall behind.  This allows us to become more stressed or pressured if our children are not learning at the rate we think they should.  No worries….just breathe.  Because even reading this blog and finding out how to help your child become more successful in math, literacy, and art should tell you that you are a wonderful and caring parent.  If your child takes more time to learn concepts, it is okay.  We all learn at different times.  Don’t worry too much.  I will say this over and over again because it is that important to know that you are doing a great job! 🙂

copyright 2012 learning math with mom

Flash Cards to Teach Children Their Letters and Desert Animals: Connecting Numeracy and Literacy


Mathematics and literacy should go hand in hand.  I have used different things to teach my children letters of the alphabet and sounds they make.  In mathematics, we use letters as variables to solve for an unknown value/amount.  We also use our letters to form words and complete thoughts to be able to describe how we solved a problem and what questions or further explorations we still have about that problem.  This is why Learning Math with Mom has a Reading Corner on the website.  Literacy is important. What can you use to help your child begin the learning?  How about flash cards with a bit of meaning to them?

I had the pleasure of meeting a local artist, here in Tucson, AZ, at the 5th Annual UA Presents Children’s Festival.  Her name is Julie Rustad.  Julie owns Julie Originals and created a set of flash cards that related to letters and our local desert animals.  These are beautifully made flash cards and I really appreciate the thought that went into creating these miniature works of art.  Not only are they beautiful alphabet cards, but they also teach the desert child about the animals in our local surroundings.  As promised, here is Julie’s website for more information as to how to order the flash cards, or where to purchase them:  The name of the flash cards is Desert Dwellers Flash Cards.  As a note, I have not been paid, or anything of sorts, to endorse Julie.  I simply was taken by the beauty and thought of her creation.

If you read any of my other blog entries, you know by now that simply using flash cards does not necessarily build on meaning or understanding.  So here are a few ideas of how to use Julie’s flash cards, or any other alphabet flash cards to make the learning experience for both you and your child(ren) more meaningful!


1)      Go outside and have your child hold, touch, see, hear, and smell things that start with that particular letter.  Practice pointing out what color(s) is on that particular animal.

2)      Practice and over emphasize the sound of the first letter of that object outside, or inside.  Allow the child to repeat the sound or you repeat the sound for him/her.

3)      For Julie’s cards, go out and see how many of the desert animals you can find outside.  Pull out that particular card and show it to your child(ren).  Practice the sounds that each letter in the name of the animals has.

4)      For an art project, work with your child(ren) to see the different shapes that each animal has on the body.  For example, the ears of a certain animal might look like circles or ovals.  The beak of a bird might look like a triangle.  Either precut those shapes out of construction paper or help your child draw the animal using those shapes.  This in particular, has helped my now 4 year old expand on his drawing by understanding what shapes make up a certain animal, car, or person.

5)      For night time reading, use the cards to read stories and facts about each animal.  Either you or your child(ren) can make up a story about that animal or a group of animals.

Where is this on the Schedule of Activities 0-18 months?


  1. Tuesday for Reading
  2. Thursday for Shapes
  3. Friday for Art
  4. Saturday and/or Sunday for Go see it outside and explore

Where is this on the Schedule of Activities 18 months-3 years? 


  1.  Monday for Shapes
  2. Monday-Friday for Letters
  3. Friday for Art
  4. Monday-Friday for Colors
  5. Saturday and/or Sunday for Go outside to see it and explore

Something to Think About: 

When it comes to finding that one thing/learning tool you can use for so many learning experiences for your child, it becomes golden because it is only one thing you need to keep track of in your house.  In addition to that, it is also a tool that can develop meaning for your child in so many different areas.  Think about it, these flash cards can fit in your purse, diaper bag, or car.  When the moment presents itself, take them out and do a quick lesson.

Again, as a parent, we might think we need to hurry up on teaching certain things to our children so that they won’t fall behind.  This allows us to become more stressed or pressured if our children are not learning at the rate we think they should.  No worries….just breathe.  Because even reading this blog and finding out how to help your child become more successful in math, literacy, and art should tell you that you are a wonderful and caring parent.  If your child takes more time to learn concepts, it is okay.  We all learn at different times.  Don’t worry too much. 🙂

copyright 2013 learning math with mom

copyright 2013 learning math with mom

How Many Hands?


As one of my dollar spot finds, I was thinking of a learning activity for these foam hands.  These are colorful and fun to the little learner.  I have used them to teach my youngest son his colors.  In hopes to make more use of the hands, I was brainstorming a short learning activity.  What little learner doesn’t like to play hide-and-go-seek?  How about an egg hunt game?

For this one, mommy hides the hands in the family room while the little learners close their eyes and count.  If the little learners are not able to count yet, have them close their eyes and sing a song.  After the song, tell your child how many hands you hid in the family room.  Then have your child go and find all of them.  Once the hands have been collected, count the hands out loud together.  At this point, if you want to label them with a number, great!  The next turn can be your child hiding all the hands and having you search for them.  At the end, both of you still count out how many hands have been collected.

So how many hands should you start with your child?  You might want to start with hiding two or three when he/she is just starting to walk, or are a great crawler.  If your child already knows how to count to five, then hide five of them.  If your child is a little bit older and knows how to count to ten, then hide ten.  The number your child is trying to work towards understanding, or counting to, is the number of  hands to hide.

What if you don’t have these hands, or cannot find these at your local dollar store?  There must be five to ten of something in your home.  If your child is into cars, then use that.   If your child is into bows, then hide the bows.  If you have ten spoons, ten pairs of socks, or ten jars of food, then use those for your hide-and-go-seek.  The important idea to take from this is that you are playing a game of math with your child by introducing counting and quantity.

Where does this fit into the Schedule of Activities for 0-18 months?

AnswerWednesdays for learning about numbers, specifically on counting

 Where does this fit into the Schedule of Activities for 18 months to 3 years?

Answer:  Tuesdays for learning about numbers, specifically on counting and quantity.

Something to Think About:

When learning with your child about counting, remember to show your child what one looks like, what two looks like, and so on.  It is great when your child learns how to count to five or ten for the first time.  The next step would be to help them learn how much, or how many that number really is.  By doing this, you are attaching real meaning to the number.  This is huge in the number sense world of mathematics.

Most importantly, as a parent, we might think we need to hurry up on teaching certain things to our children so that they will not fall behind.  This allows us to become more stressed or pressured if our children are not learning at the rate we think they should.  No worries….just breathe.  Because even reading this blog and finding out how to help your child become more successful in math should tell you that you are a wonderful and caring parent.  If your child takes more time to learn concepts, it is okay.  We all learn at different times.  Don’t worry too much. 🙂

copyright 2013 learning math with mom

copyright 2013 learning math with mom

Jigsaw Puzzles Here, Jigsaw Puzzles There, Jigsaw Puzzles Everywhere!


About 18 months old, my son was interested in jigsaw puzzles.  It first began with two piece, three piece, and four piece jigsaw puzzles.  Now 3 years old, he has an enormous collection of jigsaw puzzles and is able to do a little over 60 pieces by himself.  With 100 piece puzzles, it takes a mommy-son team working together.

Before doing anything with putting the pieces together, I put the two piece, three piece, and four piece jigsaw puzzles together and took a picture of each of them.  Then I printed out each picture and placed it in a plastic cover sleeve.  The purpose was to help my son identify what the completed puzzle should look like…to see the ultimate goal.

First rule that I shared with him was to take all the puzzle pieces out of the box.  The second rule was to make sure that all the pieces were picture up.  I personally believe that even if you cannot see the way that the puzzle is put together, that your brain is ultimately working everything out behind the scenes.  Sounds odd, but that is how I worked out math problems in high school and in college; put everything out in front of you so that your brain can start processing and putting the pieces together.

Coming right back to my then 18 month old, I showed him the picture and asked him how the pieces might fit together.  We would talk about how gaps between two pieces will form if they really do not fit together.  We talked about the different shapes we saw on the edges of the puzzle pieces.  This was done more often as we worked on jigsaw puzzle with more pieces.  If he was thinking for a longer period of time, I asked him to look at the picture again to see where the puzzle piece would go.

Believe me, there was a lot of trial and error.  This is the time to tell your child that it is okay to feel frustrated.  Share with your child how you have felt frustrated and how you dealt with it without becoming too upset about it.  However, it is our job as the parent to stop and take a break if our child is reaching the level of being overly frustrated.

After doing this each week, my son was hooked on jigsaw puzzles.  To make things more cost effective, the dollar store was my place to look for puzzles.  As I looked for puzzles, I wanted to make sure that the puzzle pieces were not a choking hazard, of course, and also that the size of the pieces was not too small.  At our local used book store, there were floor puzzles that were perfect for little hands to hold on to.

Understanding how interested my son was in jigsaw puzzles, I used this as a way to teach him other things.  Between 18 months and 2 years old, to teach him about shapes, numbers, and the alphabet, he worked on jigsaw puzzles with shapes, one about numbers, and one about the alphabet.  He also did this for one about colors.  For about four dollars, he learned about four different topics.

When he was 2 years old, he liked cars and dinosaurs.  When it was time to read about dinosaurs, we read a book and then worked on a puzzle.   It was not until he was three years old that he started asking about the parts of the body and about bones.  Going back to our local used bookstore, we were able to find a jigsaw puzzle that had the skeletal system on one side and the nervous system on the other side.  The same happened for the different states on a map.  We were also able to find a puzzle from the store of the map of the United States.

How does this all fit in learning about mathematics?  Working with jigsaw puzzles helps the child with spatial relationships.  Spatial relationships are really, in a nutshell, how shapes work in a certain area.  Just as someone is able to look at room and figure out how to reorganize or reposition the furniture, this is the same as someone looking at a jigsaw puzzle and figuring out how all the pieces fit together.  Remember Tetris?  Aha!….spatial reasoning.

Working on a jigsaw puzzle is a great way to teach your child about problem solving and using critical thinking skills.  Think of it this way, if your older child accidentally breaks a vase, a plate, or flower pot, this would be the time to get out the glue and work out this real life puzzle together.

In time, this will be the way to work on tangrams and other puzzles to come.

Where does this fit into the Schedule of Activities 18 months-3 years old?


1) Mondays under Math

2) Tuesdays under Math

Schedule of Activities for 18 months to 3 years of age

Something to Think About:

After reading this, you may think that your 18 month old or even 3 year old could not possibly be ready to work on jigsaw puzzles.  My suggestion to you is to try it.  Our children are capable of doing a lot more than we give them credit.  Trust me, I know you give your child a lot of credit for doing things, but your child can do more.  If not now, then soon.  Remember, learning is not a race.  It’s not who gets there first, it’s that you actually get there.

copyright 2012 learning math with mom

copyright 2012 learning math with mom

Learning about Colors through Reading with Baby Eye Like Books

There is a series called Baby Eye Like that are board books focusing on shapes and colors.  This was an opportunity to both teach the reading and color topics on the 0-18 months schedule for Tuesday (see schedule below).

For each Tuesday, I would choose one or two colors to focus on that day.  If we were going to learn about purple and orange, I would get the corresponding books and also any toy or object in the house that was either purple or orange.

Sitting on the rug, holding my little son, I would read the books to him.  After that, both books would be placed on the floor next to the items that were quickly collected.  Grabbing a toy, I would state the color and purposely question myself about what color it is.  Should I place the object next to the book about purple, or should I place the object next to the book about orange?  The thinking out loud went a little like this:

Mom:  (Purple Block)

Where does this block belong? Hmmmmm

This block is purple.

Should I put this next to the purple book or the orange book?

I will put the purple block with the purple book.

Mom:  (Orange Block)

Where does this block belong? Hmmmmm

This block is orange.

Should I put this next to the purple book or the orange book?

I will put the orange block with the orange book.

Realizing my first son was about nine months old at that time, his attention span was not going to be long.  Depending on the day, it might have been a five to 10 minute lesson on colors.  Sometimes the learning with the blocks worked and sometimes it didn’t.  There would also be times when I just read the books with him.  He was about two years old until he was able to identify all the colors correctly.

On the other hand, my youngest son took every opportunity to do something else when it was time to read together.  I waited until he showed interest in reading the books.  Meanwhile, I would point out the colors when we were outside, or even with his fruits and vegetables.   It was not until he was about 1 ½ years old when he was interested in working with the books.  He was able to identify all the colors correctly about 4 to 5 months after that.  These experiences remind me that children learn in stages and sometimes at different moments.  At the end, they will learn.

Where does this fit into the Schedule of Activities for 0-18 months?

Schedule of Activities for the Week

(0-18  months)

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday and Sunday
Music Reading Numbers (counting) Shapes Art Go and see it outside and explore
ABCs  Colors Reading Reading Textures

   copyright 2012 learningmathwithmom

Something to Think About:

In a nutshell, there are plenty of books you can check out at the library that teach about colors.  Apps on the phone or iPad are also good if you do not have color flashcards handy.  There is not much that you have to buy or make to teach your child about colors.  Just go outside and share with your child about the colors around him or her.  Begin exploring what purple tastes like or smells like.  What does yellow taste like or smell like?  What does green feel like or smell like?  These questions can be answered by looking at grapes, lemons, mustard, or green leafy vegetables.  Keep things simple and then make it a routine.

copyright 2012 learning math with mom

Sort the shapes, sort the shapes, but he opens up the lid and dumps all the shapes in the bucket.

At about 6 months old, my first child and I worked on our shape sorter.  I would describe how this shape is a triangle.  It has three sides, three angles, and three vertices (corners), 1, 2, 3. This is a square.  It has four sides, 1,2,3,4. It has four angles, 1,2,3,4. It has four vertices (corners), 1,2,3,4.  This is a circle.  It is round and has no corners (vertices).  This is a star and this is a plus sign.

In the beginning, my child was not interested, but wanted to play with them and put the shapes in his mouth.  So I would then talk about the colors and describe each shape appropriately:

1)    Blue circle

2)    Orange star

3)    Green square

4)    Red triangle

5)    Purple plus sign

Before the shape sorter, I had my shape flash cards and took them to the grocery store to relate the shapes to shapes we saw as we were shopping.  Then a Thursday would come along and I would reintroduce the shape sorter to see if my child was interested.

Taking one of the shapes, I would try to put it in the hole that was not the right one and say that it didn’t work.  I would try again at another wrong hole and do the same thing.  This would be repeated until the right hole fit and I showed my child how happy I was and clapped my hands for the success.  The intention was to try to model trial and error.  When the shape didn’t fit the hole, I didn’t cry, I just tried again.  This is to show my child that he didn’t have to get so frustrated and cry if things didn’t work out.  It’s okay not to have a successful event the first time.

It was some time until my child was curious about the shape sorter and was not in the stage of putting everything in his mouth anymore.  On one Thursday, here comes the shape sorter.  We both sat down on the rug and I did the same thing of trial and error, but I only had two errors this time.  This was repeated again.  However, I noticed that my child had a questionable look on his face.  He reached over to the lid, opened it up, and put all the shapes in the bucket.  He then closed the lid and looked at me.

Knowing my son, he was probably wondering why mommy was trying to put the shapes in these holes all this time when mommy could have just opened up the lid and dumped the shapes in.  Wasn’t that easier?

I could not have been more proud!  He showed me a way that the shapes could fit in.  In mathematics, there is more than one way to solve a problem.  The problem was placing the shape blocks in the right hole and he did.  He just found a bigger hole where all of them fit in.  Having shared this, he was able to do this at about 13 months placing each shape in the appropriate holes.

It is incredible how babies can process things and really find the simplest solution to a problem.  Babies need to be given more credit and more belief that they can do mathematics.  It is simply amazing.


Where does this fit into the Schedule of Activities for 0-18 months?

Schedule of Activities for the Week

(0- 18 months)

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday and Sunday
Music Reading Numbers (counting) Shapes Art Go and see it outside and explore
ABCs  Colors Reading Reading Textures

Using this schedule, the shape sorter can be under colors and under shapes.

Something to think about:

You may find that your child can do this at 6 months or in 2 years.  There is no race to see whose baby can do this at an earlier stage.  The point is to do this with purpose.  Learning about shapes needs to be fun, especially when working with a baby or older child.  Remember to take your time, if this doesn’t work and seems to be more frustrating, put it to the side.  This is not the time to force any topics.    In about a week or even a month, try it again.  It eventually will work out.

copyright 2012 learning math with mom