# What Books Does Mom Have About Math? Here are just a few….

At our home, we have a lot of books about math.  I have been asked what books I have read or the kids used since they were little ones and even to this present day.  The best way I can do this is through photos and there will be repeats as I have taken these photos at different times.

As a note, none of the publishers, nor the authors have paid me or asked me to post these books on this blog.  These are books that we actually own, or have owned.  You do not need to get all of these books, just choose a one or a few and go from there.  Remember, checking them out in the library, borrowing them from a friend, or buying them are options.  The important thing to remember is to begin reading to your child, especially in mathematics. 🙂

copyright 2015 Learning Math with Mom

# Pi Has Passed, but Can We Still Celebrate?

The biggest Pi Day ever has since passed. It was celebrated on 3/14/15 at 9:26 am and 53 seconds, so that we had 3.141592653…! We will not be seeing this for about another hundred years, but we still get to celebrate Pi Day every year on March 14th! To learn more for yourself, or for your older children, try http://www.piday.org

What about for our younger children?  We can:

1. Begin experimenting with measuring different circles with a piece of string and then taking that against a ruler to figure out length, which leads to,

2.  Talking about circumference (which is really finding the perimeter of the circle, or length

3. Looking at diameter (the length or distance across the circle),

4. Looking at Radius, which is half the length of a diameter of a circle, and

5. Compare! Get the circumference of any circle you are measuring and divide that by the measurement of its diameter. What number do you get? Get another circle and take its circumference and diameter and compare. What number do you get? How does that compare with the other circle?

6. This item can be either you number one choice to do before choices 1-5, or you can save this best for last. Read story books about Pi! This one is really fun and doesn’t take a whole lot of planning.

Where is this in the schedule of Activities of 3-5?

1. Monday- Reading a Math Story

2. Tuesday- Math under Numbers

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/CALENDAR3yearsto5yearsofagePDF_0.pdf

For yourself, search through the internet on Pi.  Go to the library and look for books about Pi and read them for yourself and for your children.  For Pi, it is not just about that one day our of the year to learn about it, it is most importantly about seeing how this relates to the world around you and your children.

The more you and your children can see how you interact and deal with mathematics in everyday life and in nature, the more comfortable you will become in learning mathematics.  Learning about math is for everyone.  Mathematics is not just for the ones who go to college, or because they are a certain gender, mathematics is something that is all around us and everyone can study it.

So we can we celebrate Pi Day? Of course! Celebrate math everyday! 🙂

copyright 2015 learning math with mom

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

Autumn:

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?

Winter:

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:

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

Summer:

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

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/ScheduleofActivitiesfor18mosto3yrsofage_0.pdf

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)

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/CALENDAR3yearsto5yearsofagePDF_0.pdf

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

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/CALENDAR3yearsto5yearsofagePDF_0.pdf

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

# Zoo, Numbers, and Shapes

At our local zoo, Reid Park Zoo, I entered my then two year old into some classes in the mornings that were held once a month. One of the classes focused on numbers and the zoo. At first, I did not know what to expect, but after the class, I was really impressed.

All the toddlers and preschoolers for the class meet at the entrance. We all go through the zoo and stop at various animal sites. The focus is to have the kids look at the animals and count how many legs they have, or what shapes they might have on them. For the giraffes, the children counted four legs and for the tortoises, the shapes ranged from squares to pentagons to circles. After the tour through the zoo, the children and parents gathered to a room for story time, an activity, and looking closely at other animals.

One of the books read to the children was about how many legs or how many toes a given animal has. The activity after that was to make an octopus out of a paper plate, paper strips, and paper circles. The parent and child were able to number the legs and decorate. The next activity consisted of placing the correct animals and number of animals onto the selected square on the sheet of paper. One section of the sheet was looking for 1 flamingo, so you placed the flamingo there. The other animals were frogs, hippos, and alligators. The picture above shows both finished activities.

At the end of the class, the Reid Park Zoo educators had three small animals for the kids to look at and touch. The whole focus was to get to know the animal, count how many legs, count how many toes, and allowing the children to touch the animal first hand. Each animal the zoo educators bring out to the class are safe for the kids and parents to touch and observe. It could be a hen, a bearded dragon, a rabbit, or a skink.

My son loved the whole experience and it was a real situation where one can apply math, in context. It was fun, real, and worth sharing it with you to encourage you to go to the Reid Park Zoo, or your local zoo, and take part in the experience!

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

1. Monday on Shapes

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

1. Tuesday on Numbers
2. Wednesday on Classify

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/CALENDAR3yearsto5yearsofagePDF_0.pdf

To be able to take your child(ren) outside of the house and experience the mathematics in context is priceless. The learning does not need to always be in the home, it can also include going out of the house and exploring the many ways we can see math around us. If you have the opportunity to take classes at your local zoo, please do. This was a great experience for my child to experience the math and relate it to something real, the zoo animals.

Just remember that it is not just about doing mathematics, but the special time you and your child are having together with the mathematics. 🙂

Note: I have not been compensated in any way by Reid Park Zoo in writing this blog.

# 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:  http://julieoriginals.com/.  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!

Ideas:

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?

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

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/Schedule%20for%20the%20Week_zerotoeighteenmonths.pdf

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

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/ScheduleofActivitiesfor18mosto3yrsofage_0.pdf

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

# 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

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

# How many spoonfuls in a jar? How much cereal do we have? Let’s count and find out!

As a first time mom, there isn’t much sleep taking place and coffee is my new best friend.  Of course, there are days that I don’t feel up to thinking about how to explore the world of math, but still want to give it a try.  The simplest thing is that since my baby has to eat, this would be a way to start introducing how to count.  At this point of doing this, my son is at the age to start baby food and I can count up to twenty with even this much lack of sleep.  Even still, waiting for the coffee to kick in is still a good idea.

So how many spoonfuls of baby food are in a jar?   It depends on the size of jar and what the child is eating out of the jar.  It also depends on what kind of spoon you are using.  In other words, it is okay to have different answers.  It is also okay to estimate later on.  For survival’s sake, let’s keep counting because counting will keep mom awake 🙂

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

Schedule of Activities 0-18 months

When your baby is older and can eat some cereal, like cheerios, use this to help your child learn how to count and learn about quantity.  Depending on how old your child is, if you have a crawler or young toddler, start counting out cheerios one by one.  Show what one piece of cereal looks like.  What does two pieces of cereal look like? What does three, four, or five pieces look like?  Use fruit pieces, or vegetable pieces to count, depending on the meal of the day.

For our kids who are ready and have more patience sitting a little longer, use cereal to compare quantities.  Count three cheerios, then count ten cheerios and place the two quantities side by side to compare which is more, or which is less.  Ask your child to count out five cheerios and put it aside or a plate.  Then ask your child to count out then cheerios and put them side by side with the other group.  Which has more?  How many more?

For my three year old, to get him to finish his oatmeal sometimes, I ask him to tell me how many spoonfuls or bites it took to finish the bowl of oatmeal.  At this age, it works from time to time. 🙂

If anything, you can also take this time to ask a simple question of what shape are the cereal pieces.  What I am trying to help you see is that you do not necessarily need to build a “formal” lesson to teach about counting, quantity, or shapes.  Math is all around us, even during breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  🙂

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

Schedule of Activities 0-18 months

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

1)      On Tuesdays for learning about numbers

2)      On Mondays for learning about shapes

3)      On Thursdays for learning about quantities of more or less.

Schedule of Activities 18 months- 3 years

This activity is something that can be done for any age of child, depending on where the child is at.  For much older children, they can keep a tally of how many spoonfuls of apple sauce is in a jar.  If you have multiple children of different ages, count the spoonfuls of baby food in a jar and have the older ones keep track over time and graph it.  Find out how many cheerios it takes to fill up a two ounce jar and compare it with using other types of cereals.  There are ways to use this idea to make it fit for all your kids so that you do not have to find a completely different activity for each child.  We as parents multitask very well, let us do the same for teaching about math.

Most importantly, 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 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 2012 learning math with mom

# Learning Shapes with Flash Cards and Buttons of Different Shapes

After going to the grocery store pointing out shapes to my child, going outdoors to connect the learning, and shape sorting, I wanted to see if he could really pick out shapes from a pile.  I was able to find plastic buttons of different shapes at a local dollar store.  It was time to think of how to use them to compliment the learning.

Between 13 to 18 months old, I decided to use the shape flash cards and the pile of buttons as a lesson.  The only shape cards I used for this lesson were the circle, ellipse, square, triangle, heart, star, and hexagon flash cards.  Pulling out a circle card, I would say that “this is a circle, where is the circle?” as I was circling my finger around the pile of shape buttons.  For him, picking up the circle was not difficult because he associated circles with baseballs, basketballs, and other bouncing balls.  For his first birthday, his piñata was a huge baseball filled with an assortment of bouncing balls as prizes.  That was his thing and so he of course knew how to identify a shape of a circle.  However, when showing the flashcard of an oval it was sometimes hard for him to choose the right button because the buttons of both the oval and circle looked very similar.

My son chose the circle button and I told him that yes that is a circle, and to show me the oval.  If that did not work, I held the circle up to the flash card to show the oval is wider than the circle.  I would tell him the oval is a circle that has been stretched out.  I would then take the circle button and place that on top of the oval button to show the difference.  This only had to be done a few times until he chose the oval correctly.

Here are ideas to think about when introducing a circle, an oval, and now thinking about the ellipse.  At this age, I used the words oval and ellipse interchangeably.  The shape card and the corresponding button are ellipses.  What is an example of an oval?  An egg is an oval.  Should I have debated about whether or not I should use two different words for the same shape?  The answer is no.  He will learn the difference between an oval and ellipse soon.  I was and currently okay with the idea of my 13 month old child calling it an oval.  His world of geometry was not going to fall to pieces because he was just 13 months old at the time.  At about 3 years of age, he learned the difference between an oval and an ellipse and is still a full functioning kid!

If you are taken back for a bit and did not know that there is a difference between an oval and an ellipse, you are not alone.  No one is going to tell anybody else that you didn’t know.  It’s okay, you will be fine too.    For more information about the difference between an oval and ellipse, go to http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_difference_between_an_ellipse_and_an_oval&altQ=Oval_and_ellipse_shapes

Continuing on to the other shapes, the same process was done.  I showed my son the square card and asked him where the square button was.  I showed him the heart card and asked him where the heart button was.  After awhile, we used the same lesson for sorting.  He was able to put all the circles in one pile, all the squares in another pile, all the hearts in a pile, and so on.  He was between 18 months to 2 years old sorting the shapes.

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

Schedule of Activities for the Week

(18 months to 3 years of age)

If you want to have shape cards that are printable and ready to use, go to the following links:

2 dimensional shape flash cards in English

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/2dimensionalshapeflashcardswithellipse.pdf

2 dimensional shape flash cards in Spanish

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/2dimensionalshapeflashcardsinspanish.pdf

You may find that your child can do this at 6 months or in 3 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

# 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.

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

# This is a Circle. This is a Square. This is a Triangle. Shapes are all around us!

Shapes are all around us and I want to show them to my child.  Since I like to do my homework, I looked up an article that parents can teach their children about shapes by making an effort of pointing out all the shapes when they go to the grocery store.

Exactly where the article came from, I don’t remember, but was able to find something similar at:

http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Helping_Activities_2/#get

The idea is to incorporate the learning of geometry where ever you go, for example, the grocery store.  What I did was just that.  I had my flash cards of a circle, triangle, oval, rectangle, and square in my purse, ready to get them out.

When we looked for cereal, I pointed out to my baby that the box faces are rectangles. This is the time to pull out the rectangle shape card to compare it with the front of the cereal box.  The words that I would use would go a little something like this:

Mom: “This is a rectangle. It has four sides, four angles, and four corners (vertices).  There are two sides that are the same length and another two sides that are the same length to each other. “

When we were looking at eggs, I would point out that the egg is an oval shape and then pull out the oval shape card to compare it.  When it was time to go get milk, I would point out that the lid to the milk is a circle.  The words that I would use would go a little something like this:

Mom:  “This is a circle.  This lid is round.  It does not have any corners (vertices) or sides. “

Outside of the grocery store, I would point out things to my son of real things that looked like a square, or a triangle, or a circle.  Tiles on the floor of many buildings are either squares or rectangles.  Some wording for squares might go like this:

Mom:  “This tile on the floor is a square.  A square has four sides that are all the same length to each other.  A square has four angles that are all equal to each other (90 degrees each).  It also has four corners (vertices).”

At the restaurant, a straw can easily become a great tool for teaching shapes.  Connect end to end and you can make a square, a rectangle, or even a triangle.  This was great even when my son was fussy and needed a little distraction.  At that point, I would quickly, very quickly say something like this:

Mom: “Wow! Look at this! This is a triangle. It has three sides, three corners, and three angles.  Play with it!”  🙂

In time, I would then ask my son to look at something when we were at the house or out an about.  Then I would ask him what shape he thought it was.  If everything was planned ahead, there would be shape cards handy for him to choose which one looked that like object.  In time, he was able to tell me what shape the rock was, or what shape the tile was, or what shape the full moon was at the time.  It was between 9 months to 13 months when he was able to tell me the shapes with no errors whatsoever.

For my second child, things were a little different.   He really liked to use the shape flash card app on my phone.  This especially helped when the line at the grocery store is a little long and both kids are fussy.  My second son would be thrilled to use my flash card app and go over the shapes.   He was about a little under a year old doing this and he learned how to take care of Mommy’s phone because it was a privilege to have it.

On a side note though, I would describe the shape to my children with at least one characteristic.  I would say the name of the shape and count how many sides it has, for example.  If the shape card was handy, I would use it.  If not, then I did not use it.  The point was to show my kids that shape are all around them.  If you want to have shape cards that are printable and ready to use, go to the following links:

2 dimensional shape flash cards in English

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/2dimensionalshapeflashcardswithellipse.pdf

2 dimensional shape flash cards in Spanish

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/2dimensionalshapeflashcardsinspanish.pdf

Before I end this posting, here is something to think about:

As adults, we sometimes take for granted what we already know.  We normally do not see something and say what shape it is because we already know it.  By pointing things out to our children, it opens their world that much more.  The same can be done for colors, sizes, and textures.  Show them what soft feels like.  Have them see what yellow is and what it might taste like, for example, mustard.  Show them what green looks like and what it smells like, for example, freshly cut grass or a green vegetable.  Open up their world by seeing things through your eyes.  It is amazing what our babies, toddlers, and preschoolers learn by learning from what we point out to them.

copyright 2012 learning math with mom