Playing Math Every Day – November 21 – 27, 2011

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Math games can be played any time anywhere. Here are some ideas for each day of the week. These games require very little, if any, advance prep. Give them and feel free to change them to make math more interesting for your children.

November 21 – Thankful Hearts Day

Valentine’s Day is far away, but we just can’t wait to share with you this fantastic Magic Heart math game from Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. History, math, and art are combined in this wonderful activity.



November 22 – Important Day

Picking up last week’s idea of gradients, how about asking your child to assign the levels of importance to various activities. First, write down various daily activities, including silly ones. If you can sketch them out, that’s even better. Next, ask the “How important is it to…” question. The level of importance can be indicated using numbers, symbols, words (not at all, a little bit, a lot, very, etc), even lengths of yarn. Once the importance is assigned, let the child line up the activities from least to most important (or the other way around).

November 23 – Family Day

How about playing a family game of math today? If you are tired of the usual board games and ready to try something new, how about going on a scavenger hunt. But not just any old scavenger hunt. Instead, we’ll be looking for iconic numbers. Iconic numbers are objects that represent a particular number in an easily recognizable and significant way.

For example, what number comes up when we say “eyes”? Bet you it is 2. But if we were to say “mouth”, the number is 1. Cat’s paws? 4! Rub-a-dub-dub men in a tub? 3! This seems simple enough, but actually iconic numbers are rather hard to find. We are so used to them that we simply don’t pay any attention to them until something goes wrong (think of a trike with two wheels instead of the expected three or a cat with two tails).

Can your family find iconic numbers 1 through 10? And don’t cancel just because the weather outside is frightful. So many iconic numbers are hidden in our houses!

November 24 – Thanksgiving Day, but also a Game and Puzzles Day

Searching for iconic numbers can get addictive! Take it a step further hunting for the real multiplication tables. Making your own tables can quickly turn into a game of art, craft and math! Don’t forget to take lots of pictures. And Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25 – Black Friday

If you are not participating in the Black Friday madness or if you get home early enough and aren’t totally exhausted, then why not play a hide and seek game. Of course, it’ll have a math-y twist to it. First, come up with a math rule for your game. Next, make the game pieces using 3×5 cards. For example, you might have a Fibonacci sequence on the cards (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, etc), use simple doubling (1, 2, 4, 6, etc), or any other rule.

For younger children, you might use stickers or draw dots instead of numbers and set up rules that govern how number of stickers, their colors, shapes or arrangement change from card to card. Now hide cards around the house and let the kids search for them (but tell them how many cards are there total). Once they find a card, they bring it to you and try to re-build the sequence. At some point they might try to guess what would be on a not-yet-found card. If they guess correctly, they can finish the entire sequence and win the game. If not, it’s back to searching for clues.

November 26 – Charles Schulz’s Birthday

Watch Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Part 1 and Part 2. Then talk about proportions in real life and in cartoons and comic strips. How tall is your child when measured in his arm lengths or head heights? How does this number compare to Charlie Brown’s proportions? Do Peanuts look funny because their proportions are so different from the real life?

Can you create your own strange cartoon character. How about creating an entire cartoon strip with it? For younger children you might want to use stickers or cut-outs of their favorite characters. Here’s the link to download and print blank comic strips. Find out even more about learning math with comic books on the Natural Math website.

November 27 – Thinking Day

This is not exactly a game, but a fun question to ask your children – “What is math? What do you do when you do math?” Whatever their answers will be, they will sure make you think.

Have you tried any of these activities? What other games are you playing with your children this week? Let us know and do share your children’s answers to “what is math” question here in the comments.


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