Suggestions for almost-5 year old who likes math? - Mothering Forums

Old 12-23-2013, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter

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Looking for suggestions for good things to do (books/games/activities/puzzles, etc...) with my almost-5 year old who seems very interested in math lately.

To give you an idea of the level he's at, here are some things he likes to do: simple origami, folding paper airplanes, measuring sides and diagonals of wooden blocks, adding and subtracting (he can do things like 66+7 or 98-4 and when I explained the trick of adding the 10s and 1s separately, he can do stuff like 12+12 also), comparing units (miles per hour vs mach speeds), board games, very simple fractions (looking at how many half gallon milk containers we have in the fridge, and figuring how many gallons), evens vs odd numbers, etc...

He can read numbers pretty easily, probably up into the hundreds and knows + and - symbols, but can't read anything but the simplest words, and can't really write at all yet (so worksheets probably wouldn't be fun). I don't have any particular goals for what he learns, and certainly don't intend to make him do anything. Just looking for ideas for what might be fun to do to extend his interest in this area.

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Old 12-23-2013, 06:53 PM

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A huge favourite of my youngest at that age was a verbal game called "I'm thinking of a number."

You say "I'm thinking of a number. Can you guess it?"

"Too small," you say.

"Still much too small."

"A hundred?"

"Too big!" you say.

And so on. Through this game and its many derivatives and the conversations that ensued, my kid was able to learn about fractions, decimals, pi and the idea of irrational numbers, negative integers and all sorts of other things. Because when she started getting really good strategically at guessing positive whole numbers, I'd give her a tricky one like three-and-a-half. Which would leave her trying to figure out what could be bigger than three but smaller than four. Next I'd give her a tricky one like negative-one. It became a great source of delight when I could stump her with something she didn't get, because then she knew she was about to learn about some fascinating new aspect of math.

Then we morphed it into "Guess my number with clues."

"I'm thinking of a two-digit positive number that's less than forty, and the first digit is even, and the second number is double the first one." Or "I'm thinking of a number that is the square of your age, plus Devin's age."

The greatest part of this game is seeing how your child plays it back at you. It tells you so much about his ability to reason mathematically. I loved getting clues like "I'm thinking of a number that's two digits, and it's bigger than 12, but in a backwards way!" Even if the clues weren't perfect they showed me so much about how my child was comprehending math.

We also loved dice games, card games and cuisenaire rod play at that age.

Miranda

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Old 12-24-2013, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter

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Thanks for the suggestion!  I played that with my son this morning as I was cooking breakfast (just positives and some x-and-a-half numbers) and he loved it and didn't want to stop. It's pretty easy for him at that level, but I see how you can make it much more complicated.  Of course almost-3-yr-old sister insisted on turns as well, which didn't work quite so smoothly.

Excuse my ignorance, but what's a cuisenaire rod?

Still eager to hear any other thoughts as well.

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Old 12-24-2013, 12:24 PM

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This post on my blog has a photo of cuisenaire rods (they're the un-scored ones that are small and mostly not orange). Basically they're wooden rods that are 1 cm x 1 cm x 'n' cm, with 'n' being a number from 1 to 10. They're colour-coded by length, and I credit them with helping my kids get a really strong sense of number relationships.

Incidentally, the newly-4-year-old I was writing about in that post is now 10 and rocking a 9th grade algebra course at the local school and will probably be ready to start Trig. by March. Just so you know where you might be heading.

Miranda

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Old 12-24-2013, 03:45 PM

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While some people love the cuisenaire rods, I prefer the kit that contains units (ones), sticks (tens), flats (hundreds), and cubes (thousands) for manipulative play.  I don't know why, but I wanted to throw that option out there.  I have made similar items with (legos, beads, etc) but finally bought the darn box for my youngest.  I really wish I would have bought it for Kayla (my middle child).  It has been a bigger blessing than I expected.  Here is the link:  http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Resources-Interlocking-Base-Starter/dp/B000F8XFHM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1387928627&sr=8-2&keywords=base+ten+blocks

I also like the right start math games kit, although truthfully we all just play a few of the games available.  However, it comes with mini-manipulatives (like a jr sized abacus) that I have found helpful for demonstrating concepts too.  I don't use the right start program but I love this kit.

My kids have always enjoyed our double sided shut the box game.  I just recently found out that not everyone plays it like we do.  Our version is great for cementing addition in the head.  We roll two dice, and then close lids to numbers that would add up to the dice total.  We don't care how many/few lids are closed--just get the total right.  The first person to close their side completely wins.  For example, if I rolled two 4s, 4+4=8, therefore I could close a 1 and a 7, a 3 and a 5, or even a 1, 2, and a 5.  If you get to where you only had small numbers remaining, we allow you to choose whether or not you use one or two dice.

My kids also love M&M math.  We don't buy them often, but whenever we do, we do math.  This has been true since they were 2 or 3.  When they were 3, they would sort their package by color and then perhaps count out a color or line them up to compare piles.  Lining them up made it visually easy to see which color had the most.  This evolved into a bar graph.  We have also (as they have grown) had them add orange and blue, find the difference in the piles, find percentages (what percent of the package was green), they have each had a bag and then we compared the bags.  Do all bags have mostly orange?  We have done fractions, probablility, and ratios with M&Ms!  Put them all together in a line and measure them.  How many inches?  Centimeters?  These are great for when Halloween just happened, or when we have had a rough week and just need a bit of fun. Of course, you could do these same activities with a pile of pony beads or whatever.  My kids like that they get to eat their assignment when they are done, but you could take the beads and turn it into a necklace or whatever.

A measurement scavenger hunt.  Give your son a ruler and show him how to measure in inches (or centimeters).  Ask him to find things around that house that measure a specific length.  We have done the "find something less than five inches long", something greater than five inches long, etc. routines.  We have done the can you find something for each inch on the ruler.  (So, we need something that is 1 inch, 2 inches, 3 inches, 4 . . . 12 inches long).  We have also done this with a random measuring device.  Can you find something that is five hands long?  How long is it if you use your foot instead?  Can you measure the yard in body lengths?

Anyways, we have a ton of fun with math.  We do use workbooks for some stuff -- not all.  I wouldn't bother using a workbook with my kids to learn time or money handling.  I love the small GEARED clock from Learning Resources.  http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Resources-Time-Student-Clock/dp/B00000JH41/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387928670&sr=8-1&keywords=learning+resources+clock  It is the best.  I would play "Pass the time" with my kids (we made it up).  I would set the clock, they would read it to me.  They would set the clock, I would read it to them.  Started with hour times.  Then, half hours, quarter hours, then time with minutes as a multiple of fives, and finally every time possible.  Then I would give them a clock that was set to maybe 4:30 and ask them-- here is the time. . . if I was watching a movie that lasted 80 minutes, what time would it be when it ended.  Then, my child would reset the time to answer the question.

Estimating is great fun too.  How many pennies will it take to fill that jar--let's estimate and then find out if we were right.  How about marbles, how about legos?  Also, for measuring volume: give him a meauring cup, a pint jar, a quart jar, and a gallon jug.  Let him discover their equivalents.

Amy

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Old 12-24-2013, 04:42 PM

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We own the base-ten rod/flat/cube set as well, and I think they're great for place value concepts and working with larger numbers, but I have also found the cuisenaires fabulous at a somewhat earlier stage and for particular applications eg. nothing illustrates the commutative property of multiplication as beautifully, to my mind.

miranda

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Old 12-26-2013, 09:50 AM

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Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma

We own the base-ten rod/flat/cube set as well, and I think they're great for place value concepts and working with larger numbers, but I have also found the cuisenaires fabulous at a somewhat earlier stage and for particular applications eg. nothing illustrates the commutative property of multiplication as beautifully, to my mind.

miranda

Cool, I never even thought of it for that application!  I know that I am limited in my own thinking and experiences--probably why the others work well for me, I am used to them!

Amy

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Old 12-26-2013, 09:47 PM - Thread Starter

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Added some cuisenaire rods to the Amazon list for his birthday in Feb (and Miranda, I'll definitely print out that booklet you made -- lots of interesting ideas there).  Also need to get a protractor, since we were having a long discussion today about 90 degree angles and other types of angles, and I couldn't find anything to measure angles with in the house.  Amy, those games sound great, I'll have to try them.  I think he might like the measurement scavenger hunt especially.

Miranda - 9th grade algebra at 10 is quite impressive!

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