Last weekend, when the kids were hopping around the living room at 8:00 am begging us to take them out to breakfast, it seemed like a pretty decent idea. Twenty minutes later we were crowded in the entrance of our favorite family breakfast place, waiting to be seated.
As I struggled to keep the kids’ hands from fondling everything within reach, while using their “inside voices” and remaining out of the line of traffic, I heard the oh too familiar sound of gas being passed, followed by a series of giggles.
Forgetting to use his “inside voice” my son proudly took full responsibility by shouting “I farted!” and my daughter congratulated him by grabbing the sides of his face in her hands saying quite sincerely, “It’s okay your farts are beautiful, just like Daddy’s.”
While muffled laughter resonated through the waiting area and my husband tried unsuccessfully to pretend he wasn’t with us, my daughter tried her best to beat her brother by passing gas twice in rapid succession and exclaiming, “I win! I farted forty-seven times!”
As my husband glared at me and my daughter insistently grabbed for my hand, asking “Mommy where is the bathroom? I think I have to go potty.” It dawned on me. Not only are my kids social skills in the toilet, they also can’t count (or at the very least estimate)! She clearly had not farted forty-seven times.
After breakfast we headed home for some Math “fun”…!
Sorting It Out, More or Less
Kids want to make sense of the world. Sorting is one of the natural first steps toward math literacy. Think of it as an exercise for the brain to strengthen a child’s ability to form organized thoughts. Meaning, kids who can sort, compare and contrast objects, amounts and numbers are shown to fair better with higher level mathematical concepts.
Estimating and the quantitative concepts of “more than” and “less than” are also essential to the development of mathematical reasoning. At the preschool and elementary level it is a valuable practice to ask kids to guess (or estimate) an answer before investigating or calculating one. Once kids do have the skills to calculate an exact answer, a solid background in estimation will allow them to check whether their answer is in fact reasonable.
Furthermore, the natural dialog and discussion that takes place while playing sorting/estimating games with your child will build a math vocabulary that will be immensely valuable when they face those dreaded W-O-R-D problems in the years to come.
This Activity Can Help to Enhance:
– Sorting Skills
– Estimating Skills
– Art Skills/Color Theory
– Counting Skills
– Mathematics Vocabulary
COST: Free (or almost free)
– Colored Paper
– Glue Stick (optional)
– Beads, blocks or other toys/objects that can be sorted
ACTIVITY ENHANCEMENT IDEAS:
1. Ask kids to sort any number of objects that can be categorized, such as toys (car or truck), colored blocks, food (fruit or vegetable), Autumn leaves (by color or size), beads, buttons, stones or spare change.
2. Introduce the “Greater Than”, “Less Than” and “Equal” symbol at an early age. Organize a number of objects on two sides and explain that “the crocodile’s mouth always wants to eat the bigger number (or meal)”. You can even draw teeth on the symbol to help them visualize the concept. Explain that the equals symbol, means “same as” or that the sides are balanced (why the symbol of two horizontal lines is used). Use additional math vocabulary words such as larger, smaller, bigger, more, and less while playing.
3. You can even build a simple scale with a ruler, string and paper cups to literally balance objects on either side. The “bigger” object or load, weighs “more”. Equal loads are balanced or weigh the same.
4. Have a scavenger hunt for objects found in nature and then sort them by type (rock, leaf, flower, nut, pine cone, tree bark, shell …) or by color. Create a collage or even a rainbow using your nature finds!