Monday, December 28, 2015
Cool Math Games: Winter Edition
You might remember that I like to supplement the children's math curriculum weekly with cool math games or projects or activities. Some work well at any time of the year, of course (Syd and I still play Multiplication Touch regularly--even after you've got the facts memorized, it's still fun!), but there are some that are especially fun when done seasonally. Here are some good winter math games!
3D paper evergreen. This is a geometry, STEM, and fine-motor skills project that makes magic out of a single sheet of paper. The tutorial includes a printable that makes the cutting easy, but you could turn it into more of a challenge by simply giving verbal instructions. When I was a kid, a project very similar to this was given to me with the instructions merely to "make a hole in a single piece of paper large enough to fit your entire body through."
Want to know how to do that one? Get your scissors and figure it out!
bean mosaic. Since it's winter, I'm imagining that you've got loads of dried beans on hand. Kids can play with pattern-making and symmetry while they make their own mosaics using the wonderful variety of sizes and colors of dried beans out there, and then you can cook them up for dinner and they can taste all those varieties, too.
build-your-own calendar. The time before New Year is a great time to get kids thinking about how months and years work, and therefore a great time to have them build their own calendar for next year!
Christmas-themed printable mazes. These aren't super challenging, but they give kids who can't stop thinking about Christmas something engaging to do on a car ride or before the big feast.
Christmas-themed online games. These aren't hands-on, of course, but if you had a Christmas like mine, and you and your kids spent a lot of time visiting relatives in hospital rooms or nursing homes, then some easy and festive online games are handy to have in your toolbox.
circular perpetual calendar. This is a different kind of calendar to make that focuses less on the mathematical progression of days and months, and more on the circular progression of the months and the seasons.
DIY dominoes. Plaster of Paris isn't so messy that you can't do it indoors, and yet it's still a good, gloopy sensory experience for the kid who loves to make a mess. You can make these plaster of Paris dominoes look traditional, but kids would also love to create dominoes with other symbols or patterns or imaginative beasts--and then they can create their own games, too!
embroidered Christmas cards: The kids and I embroidered Christmas cards this year, but I was actually the only one who made these mathematical ones, mostly because I wanted to test that they worked before asking the kids to try them.
Verdict: They work!!! They are super fun, pretty simple, good practice measuring, and the patterns that they make are magical. They're a little fiddly, though, with the embroidery floss and needle, etc., so I'm considering setting the same activity up on a pegboard, or with nails, to let the kids try it out on a larger scale.
Fibonacci art project. Here's another really cool number concept for kids to explore through process-based play.
homemade Hex. I love that you can make every single component of this game, from the game board (Sharpie on cardboard) to the pieces (paint and clay).
m&m wreath. The kids made this one year when Syd was a preschooler, and it was super cute. If you've got a little one, it's great for one-to-one correspondence and fine-motor skills. If you want to discourage excessive munching, have the kids use white glue to glue the m&ms to the wreath.
number Scrabble. This game is a fun DIY version of Scrabble. Grab an old Scrabble game from a thrift store, and rig it up for this.
prime numbers game. Kids who have just discovered prime numbers will enjoy exploring them in more depth with this game.
printable hexi cards. Ugh, the weather today! We might go bowling later, or to the indoor pool at the Y, but we're certainly not playing outside! These hexi cards or other similar pattern-making cards make something new and different to pull out for the kids on a miserable winter day.
printable mazes. I LOVE these sets of printable mazes. I've been using them with the kids since they were wee, and because there are several levels of difficulty, we're still using them!
rounding practice snowball fight. Use up the backsides of previously used paper for this game, which I think could also be easily adapted to practice different concepts.
Tenzi. Scrounge up the necessary dice from your other board games for this fast-paced game.
toilet paper tube snowflakes. You can't find a better demonstration of rotational symmetry than in snowflake crafting! These toilet paper tube snowflakes are a cheap craft, since the material comes from your recycling bin, AND you can leave them up all winter, since snowflakes are festive even after Christmas. Add more to the project by painting the snowflakes, adding glitter, hanging them with fishing line from the ceiling, or even making them into a mobile.
Or, if your kids are as obsessed with Perler beads as mine currently are, make your snowflakes out of Perler beads, instead!
window stars. Winter is when I always want to make window stars! They require instruction following, pattern-making, and fine-motor skills, and the finished product always displays something beautiful and geometrically fascinating
There are basic window stars, and plenty to play with as far as size and color with just that one template, but for the adventurous crafter, there are tons of more sophisticated window star patterns out there.
winter-themed pattern block templates. Pattern blocks are always fun to play with! My kids use them for pattern-making and problem-solving, but it's also fun to follow patterns using templates like these. To make the activity more challenging, trace out only the overall outline of each shape, and have the kid try to figure out how to make each one, as well.
woven snowflakes or stars. This craft is especially on point for any kid learning or practicing skip counting, since that's what you need to make these stars, and in fact this circular skip counting method is used to teach multiplication in the Waldorf method--Waldorf loves its pretty patterns! Regardless, the patterns that you make are so interesting that anybody will love this project, and you can easily add more intricacy to it, change up the craftsmanship by using more colors, etc.
Anything strike your fancy as a fun winter project? I'm a mean mom making my kids continue their regular math curriculum this week (AND spelling, AND Book of the Day, AND their newspaper project), but we'll also be setting aside plenty of time for sneaky math, too.
Window stars? Definitely Perler bead snowflakes!