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 28 – Spots and Dots Day
This is a perfect day to play subitizing games, playing dominoes or any board games that including throwing dice. If you have simple dot stickers and 3×5 cards, you can create subitizing cards. To make the game easier, keep the number of dots small and/or arrange them in an easily recognizable pattern (i.e. like dots on dominoes). For a harder game, increase the number or dots, mix dots of different colors and sizes, or place them on the cards randomly.
Quickly show the card to your child. Your child should have just enough time to estimate the number of dots, but not enough time to allow your child to count them. Then, depending on the age of the child, you can either ask how many dots were on the card or ask to show the number of dots on the card using some other manipulative (i.e. bear counters, beads, etc). For very young children, you can show the first card briefly, then display two cards – the first one and another one and ask your child to point to the one she just saw.
November 29 – Louisa May Alcott’s Birthday
Louisa May Alcott was a big-time journal writer. Help your child start a math journal. You can make it a daily tradition of making an entry into the journal. The questions don’t have to be from worksheets (although they can be). You can ask your child to build a pyramid with 6 blocks, then sketch it out in the journal. I love searching Pinterest for great pre-K and K math journal ideas.
November 30 – Mark Twain’s Birthday
Do you remember The Great Jumping Frog of Calaveras County? Let’s make cute origami frogs today. Origami is surprisingly mathematical. On the surface, it’s a lesson in shapes and symmetry. But as you start folding, you’ll notice a lot more math opportunities. For example, do you have to start with a square? What if it’s a rectangle? Can I make a frog if I start with a Post-It note square? What words should I use to explain each fold?
If you start with a rectangle of paper, you can make a whole family of proportionally smaller frogs and a leftover rectangle of paper too small for frog making. Ask the “what if” question: “what if we could continue folding ever-smaller frogs”.
December 1 – Let’s Play Ball
And after all the running around, you can explore a type of fractal called Apollonian gasket. You can print it out or draw it (get inspired with this video). Depending on the age of your children, you can ask them to decorate, trace or draw the circles. If you have a young child, you probably have a collection of balls of various sizes, from basketballs to tennis balls to marbles to pompoms. See if you can arrange this collection into a gasket.
December 2 – Map and Measure
If you are planning a holiday road trip, then get the map out and see how long the drive will be… in origami frogs from November 30th. Measure it on the map, then measure distances to other interesting points just to compare. No road trip in the plans? No worries! You can measure a room in jumping frogs, then create a map using these measurements.
December 3 – The Rule of Three
Today’s game is noticing the number 3 in your daily activities and surroundings. Record the findings in the math journal. You can start at breakfast with figuring out how many meals (not counting snacks) we have every day.
December 4 – Reindeer Day
Explore odd and even numbers by talking about Santa Claus’s flying reindeer. Can we tell, just by looking at Santa’s sleigh, if Santa has an odd or even number of reindeer? How can we tell? What if Santa had more or fewer reindeer?