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.
December 12 – More Evergreen Fun
Remember our Evergreen Fun gradients game from last week? If you don’t have a tree farm nearby, you can still play it. Simply cut isosceles triangles of various sizes out of green paper or felt and let your child create her own trees.
December 13 – Magnetic Pompoms and Patterns
Have you ever tried magnetic pompoms? These are just regular pompoms, but with little magnets hot-glued to them. There are countless games that can be played with these pompoms. One of the games is making patterns and designs with them on a fridge, a cookie sheet, etc. Another absorbing game is making little pompom sculptures and figuring out in the process the difference between odd and even numbers.
December 14 – South Pole Day
On this day in 1911 the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his dogsled expedition reached the South Pole. How can it help learn math? Remember the real multiplication tables game? If one of the Amundsen’s dogs were to need warm booties, how many would it need? What if two dogs needed warm booties? Three dogs?
December 15 – Puzzles Day
Do you have a Pentomino puzzle? If not, it’s easy to make out of craft foam, cardboard or construction paper. If you have building blocks to spare, then you can use those too, just hot glue them together. Younger children might be more interesting in creating their own designs than solving actual puzzles. Still, Pentomino teachs such important mathematical concepts as rotational and reflection symmetry, chirality, and tessellation or tiling.
December 16 – Math That Is Hands (and Feet) On
Let’s continue learning about chirality by turning it into a mix of a scavenger hunt and an art project. First, let’s make some hand and foot prints. Are these symmetrical? Are these chiral? If your child needs a bit more help figuring out the answer, you can help by cutting out one of the hand prints and suggesting he superimposes it over the other print. Repeat it with foot prints. What about other objects around the house, such as blocks, LEGO pieces, sliced fruits and veggies, letters of the alphabet…
December 17 – Live Sculptures Fun
Let’s make live sculptures. The trick is your sculpture must be symmetrical to your child’s creation. But guess what… live sculptures sometimes move. Can you keep up and maintain the symmetry?
December 18 – Crazy Gumball Machine
How would your child like having a gumball machine in the family room? Well, what if this gumball machine had a mind of its own? A regular well-functioning gumball machine follows a simple rule: one quarter goes in, one gumball comes out. This machine is different. What kind of crazy wacky rule can it follow? Would it give 2 gumballs at a time? Red gumballs only? How about red gumballs for a quarter and green ones for a dime? Let your child figure out the gumball machine’s rule. Then let him take a turn controlling the machine.