I could do some really cool things to trick the girls into learning math. I could build an elaborate gnome village, for instance, in which the math gnomes could practice fractions in the little gnome bakery, and physics on the little gnome playground, and arithmetic in the little gnome grocery store. I could draw a giant hopscotch grid on the basement floor and have the girls hop out equations. I could invent an intricate computation game with our numbered beanbags, and offer prizes for the winners.
Or I could just hand the girls a simple number grid to busy their hands at the table after dinner:
These number grids (1-50 and 1-100) and blank multiplication grids are all printable math activities at Kids Can Have Fun. I gave the number grids to the girls with some markers and showed them how to skip count by coloring in the appropriate number squares, and then I showed them how to transfer those numbers to the appropriate row and column in the blank multiplication grid.
Then I let them go:
Syd really likes goal-oriented projects, and so it wasn't long before I realized that she was not going to give up until she had filled out her entire multiplication grid:
Syd, however, colored in every single square of every single number series (with me hanging out at her elbow to help her out), then transferred those numbers first to the right row, then the right column on her sheet:
Dinner came and went, clean-up time came and went, playtime came and went, and finally we shooed her off to bed. But the next morning, while I drank coffee and read the newspaper and was available for assistance, Syd (in the same shirt she wore the day before) went right back to her work: