# Cookie Cutters and Snow: A Winter Exploration with Shapes

There is snow outside, but what if there is not enough to make a snowman? Get out those cookie cutters and make some shapes!

It was still a cold day and the kids wanted to play with the snow. At this point, the snow was more like chunky ice, but still manageable.  So I gave my youngest cookie cutters to make shapes with the snow and it was a lot of fun!  This was one of those great explorations that took of little to no time for prepping and more time for exploring!

With using cookie cutters, the shapes become more 3-dimensional and is transformed from their 2-dimensional point of view.   For some eyes, going from 2-dimensional to 3-dimensional can be a challenge. The more explorations one can do with going from looking at a 2D heart to a 3D heart, the better. For those circle shapes, show how a circle in 3D looks like a snowball, a sphere! If you have some empty tissue boxes, or shoe boxes, fill those up as well with snow and see what they can build with them.

Would you like another exploration? Look up videos of people building igloos with snow/ice.  It might be amazing for the little ones to see how blocks of snow can create something that looks like a hemisphere shape. 🙂

Remember to make this a fun mathematical exploration. This is not only a time to learn about math, but a time to get together and make mathematical memories! Enjoy!

# 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)!

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!

Enjoy!

# Looking for Shapes in Rocks: Hearts, Trapezoids, Rectangles, Triangles, and Rhombi.

Rhombus-Shaped Rocks, or Diamonds

The kids wanted to go ride their bikes outside and while everyone took their water break, we took the opportunity to look for rocks.  It all started by asking the kids to look for rocks in the shape of triangles.  Those were put in a pile.  Then I asked them to look for rocks in the shape of rectangles.  Then one of them found a trapezoid shaped rock and the rest found more of those.  After that, it was time to look for rocks shaped like a rhombus, or diamond shaped.  It took all of five minutes and it was fun!  That’s all it has to take to see shapes in shapes because it is just that easy.  The best thing about this is that it is a scavenger hunt that is fun at any season of the year 🙂  So go outside and explore the shapes that rocks have to offer!

Rectangle-Shaped Rocks

Heart-Shaped Rocks

Trapezoid-Shaped Rocks

Triangle-Shaped Rocks

Go outside and search for the shapes because they do happen naturally, even hearts!  If you do not have a yard, or a place to look for rocks, then go look at the shapes you see on buildings, or the sidewalk.  The shapes are everywhere and it is free! No prepping, no spending, just walk outside and point these things out to your kids.  From time to time, ask them what shape this is, or ask them to find something in this shape.  It is so much fun!

Get excited about math and get them excited too! When you show interest, they will follow.  Change the way they see the world because it is so beautiful outside 🙂

copyright 2016 learning math with mom

# Mom! You Have Crackers in Your Pretzel Bowl: Sorting Becomes Delicious!

My second oldest son can sometimes be particular about his food, especially his snacks.  He wanted to have his bunny crackers, but we bought the box that is a snack mix with a blend of bunny crackers and pretzels.  So I offered to eat the pretzels and he will eat the bunny crackers.  Pouring the snack mix in my bowl, he yelled, “Mom! You have crackers in your pretzel bowl!”  He is 3 ½ at this time.  The answer to this problem was that he sorted out the bunny crackers and put it into his bowl.  After he sorted everything out, he ate his crackers.  I poured more of the mixture in my bowl and he sorted it out again.  🙂  I didn’t need to set anything up, really, and I didn’t have to announce that we are doing a learning activity.  It just naturally happened.  Sorting that becomes a delicious snack time!

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

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

1. Tuesday on Sorting

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

This was the moment when the learning just naturally presented itself without any planning ahead of time.  This is the sweetest part of being a teacher and mother.    This also gave me a better perspective to see how my children can just naturally do something mathematically.

There are plenty of things to sort inside your home and outside your home.  Sort rocks, sort cereals, sort forks and spoons, and sort buttons.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy because it could be as simple as sorting crackers that come in different shapes and sizes. Just remember that it is not just about doing mathematics, but the special time you and your child are having together with the mathematics. 🙂

copyright 2014 learning math with mom

# Letters and Numbers in One Morning

After a few birthday parties, between my oldest and second oldest son, they accumulated about 3 sets of wooden blocks.  Of course they loved stacking them up and making buildings, but I wanted to figure out what I could do with them to teach about literacy and numeracy.  If you ever wondered what you can do with all those wooden blocks, here is something my second oldest and I did together.

At this moment in his life, he was a few months older than two years of age.  With my little learner, it was difficult to keep his attention when he knew mom was about to start a lesson.  He was the child that usually ran away when I said it was time for story time.  However, this really was something he found fun and it was building something, per say.

Together, we sang the alphabet and searched through the two buckets of blocks to create one row of the alphabet.  Then either he or I picked a wooden block from either of the two buckets and asked him what letter it was and what sound it made.  Then I asked him to match it to the letter on our alphabet row.  We continued to do this until we made the model below.  The numeracy part came afterward.

Starting with the letter A, I asked him to count how many “A”s there were.  This continued on until we went all the way to the letter Z.  Considering that hindsight is 20/20, what we could have done was write the letters in one column and the quantity of each letter block in another column.  So, this is something  to do if you have time and enough of an attention span from your little one.  This could be something to do after taking a break to do something else and coming back to chart it.

Do you need 2 to 3 sets of wooden alphabet blocks to do this lesson?  The answer is no. I’m sure you can go to the dollar store and get 3 or 4 sets of alphabet cards for three to four dollars total.  You might have so many of these flashcards and lost a few here and there and wondered what you can do with them now.  This lesson would be perfect!

If your child has lots of toys, or lots of little toys, then take some pieces of paper and write each letter of the alphabet.  Put those pieces of paper in order together.  Then model in front of your child for the first few toys.  For example, take that car and overly enunciate the first letter C.  Ask your child what letter does this car start with.  Then place the car under the letter C.  Repeat this until you have at least three to four toys under each letter.  Remember, not every letter needs to have three to four toys associated with it.   The idea is to recreate the second picture above.

For those of you who are wondering why the second picture looks a little familiar from your days in middle school or high school, this is because this is a physical graph collecting the graphs.  This particular graph could be called a line plot or a bar graph of sorts.  If you have a family of children with different ages, you can extend this to your older kids when learning or reviewing about graphs.  An extension to this is calculating the percentage of As, Bs, etc. This data can be displayed in a circle graph/pie graph, tally chart, or frequency chart.  This area would be a piece of data and statistics.  Now you have a lesson for your little ittie bitties and your older ones.

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

1. Mondays on “ABCs”
2. Wednesday on Numbers (Counting)

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

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

1. Tuesday on Numbers
2. Wednesday on Sorting

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

For something so simple as wooden blocks, or using flashcards and toys, you as an educator to your child can develop their sense of letter recognition, phonemic awareness, and numeracy skills.  This is something that can be used for families who have children from 18 months to middle school.  If your older child is reluctant for his/her parent to teach a math lesson, maybe he or she can teach the younger brother or sister.  This is a character building exercise as well as trying to persuade your older child to learn at home and to change the thinking that learning doesn’t stop in the classroom.

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 2013 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