Last week, one of my dozens of cousins forwarded me an article titled “Why Cousins Make the Best Friends.”
I was flooded with the memories of countless hours spent exploring the woods, building forts, capturing flags, scarring knees, chipping teeth, breaking bones… (Not to mention, the infamous “bike show” that could very well have resulted permanent brain damage and/or disfigurement.)
But our No. 1 go-to game involved lining up on the hill alongside our Grandfather’s garage as one chosen despot cousin shouted “Mother May I” edicts from my Grandma’s back deck.
I’m still haunted by the sound of my own tiny voice asking, “Mother, may I take 5 somersaults forward?” Followed by the biting reply of my cousin Peter, saying “No you may not, but you may take 3 cartwheels backwards!” (Cousins will be cousins!)
My “Mother May I” memories did, however, give me a great idea for this month’s Math Mom’s STEM Lab activity. What better way to get kids up and moving, while strengthening math skills?
This Activity Can Help to Enhance:
– Counting Skills
– Reading Skills
– Number Recognition
– Physical Coordination
– Properties of Integers (addition and subtraction of positive and negative numbers)
– Small pieces of paper or note cards
1. Mark one set of note cards/paper with numbers. (I stuck to one through ten.)
2. Mark second set of note cards/paper with “Mother May I” commands, such as Hop, Skip, Jump, Cartwheel, Somersault, Crab Walk, Baby Step, Giant Step, Backwards Step, Run, and Twirl.
3. Turn cards upside down in two piles or place in two grab bags.
4. Begin by having kids take turns chosing one number and one activity to perform.
“Mother May I” Street Rules: The “mother” stands at one end of the yard/room, with her/his back turned to the “kids” lined up at the opposite end. The kids take turns asking “Mother, may I take ______ ______ forward?” (Such as “5 Giants Steps” or “3 Twirls”) The mother then replies, “Yes, you may” or “No, you may not. But, you may ______ instead,” suggesting an alternative action, which her child must carry out. The first one to reach the mother wins the game and becomes the new mother!
But, if you detest dictatorships, you can use my mathematically random system of picking a number and action blindly out of a hat. If you’re in a small space, drop the “race to the finish line” rule as well and just focus on getting kids moving. With the sub-zero weather outside, this week, my kids had a great time picking numbers and hopping and crab-walking around the kitchen island.
ACTIVITY ENHANCEMENT IDEAS:
– Ask kids to estimate how many giant steps it takes to cross the room and count together. Then experiment with baby steps, bunny hops, princess twirls …
– Experiment further with integer subtraction and addition by experimenting with moving forward and backward. “If you take 3 steps forward and 11 backwards, where do you end up? Behind where you started? Wow! That’s -8, just like the temperature outside!”
You can even use painters tape or Post-its to make the numbers on the floor to help them visualize the concept of negative or less than zero.