Karyn's Blog

Ideas, Lessons, and Musings on Kids' Money and Math

## Paper Chain Math

Not only are paper chains fun to make but there’s a lot of great math in them, too! And the best part is, making them is super easy. All you need is colored construction paper cut into one inch strips, clear tape, and a pen.

PreK-K Activities

Patterning: Math is made up of patterns which are often introduced in the early years through repeating patterns activities. To create a simple repeating pattern in your paper chain, choose two colors to work with and alternate the colors as you string the loops together. Have your child lay out the strips in the pattern before adding them to the chain. Ask her to predict which color to lay down next and tell you why she chose that color.

Time concepts: Young children have a hard time waiting for special events like their birthday or an upcoming holiday. And that makes sense because time is a very abstract concept. Paper chains are a great way to give them some concrete experiences with the passage of time.

Have your child create a paper chain made up of the same number of loops as days to the special event. Hang it someplace where he can easily see and touch it. Each morning, have him remove one loop until, finally, he gets to remove the last loop on the special day.

Tying in numbers: An easy way to expose young children to numbers is to label each one of the loops starting with the number ’1′ at the top of the loop. Each day, count the loops with your child before having her remove that day’s loop. This will help her learn the number sequence…and get some beginning subtraction practice!

K-1 Activities

Skip counting: For kindergartners, consider making the paper chain in multiples of 10. This will help them learn the decade names and reinforces the single-digit sequence through counting on. For example, make the numbers 1-10 one color, 11-20 a second color, etc. As you count the number of days left, they will learn that the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 repeat after each decade. If counting to 34 it would sound like: 10, 20, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34. (The teen numbers do not follow this pattern and are often confusing to young children. Plenty of counting opportunities will help them solidify the “teens”.)

First graders can alternate colors in groups of five. Then they can skip count by fives when figuring out how many days remain before the big event. It, too, provides kids with opportunities to count on. For example, if there are 17 days left, point to the numbers on the chain as you count: five, ten, fifteen then count on by ones…sixteen, seventeen.

Even and Odd Numbers: Write numbers on a two-color repeating pattern paper chain. All the even numbers will be one color and the odd numbers the other color. Help your child skip count by evens then odds.

## Family Math Night Activity: Building a Honeycomb

I’ve been wanting to try out an idea I had for our Family Math Night events and, since we were trying out our newest kit, Gellin’ with Geometry, it was the perfect opportunity.

My idea was to have a project that all the participants contributed to so that at the end of the event, we would have one big something to share.  In keeping with the geometry theme, I decided to include a station where participants could made one honeycomb cell.  As the cells were completed, we could begin to put them all together.

What a success!!  It was one of the most popular stations.  And the result was phenomenal.  Here’s a photo of the result:

It was so much fun doing that I wanted to share it with others.  So I put together a short video describing the process and the math.  BTW, this activity can easily be done in a classroom setting, as well!

## Family Math Night ‘What do you notice’ Posters

I love the idea of having at least one What do you notice? posters at our Family Math Night events.   I started it last year when I did an event at an IB school and the two teachers I was working with wanted to tie in some of the IB inquiry philosophy.  It was really fun to watch the kids standing in front of the posters trying to ‘notice’ things.  Besides, they got an extra Estimation Jar slip for writing something on the poster.  So they were incentivized.

Since we are launching our newest Family Math Night kit, Gellin’ with Geometry, I wanted to tie this year’s What do you notice? question into geometry.  Below are the ideas I came up with.  The first one reflects the self-similarity of fractals.  The second one ties into one of the Gellin’ stations:  Fraction Action.

It’ll be fun to see some of the things the kids notice.  I’m always amazed at what they come up with.  And that’s what’s so much fun about these questions…they allow for creative, outside-the-box thinking…the kind of thinking we want to develop in all of our students.

## Pom Pom Patterns

Mathematics has been described as the science of pattern.  That’s because pattern is the foundation of all work done in math and is the thread that binds all parts of mathematics together. Through recognizing, describing, extending, and generalizing patterns in quantities, numbers, shapes, and space, we learn that there is a sense of order and predictability to math. We come to realize that the rules and procedures that we are so used to using actually evolved as efficient ways to represent these patterns.

Patterning activities begin simply in prek-k.  Below is an example of a repeating pattern. Part of the pattern is hidden under the cups.  The child makes a prediction as to what comes next in the pattern then lifts the cup for confirmation.

It’s important to also ask the question, “What comes here?” and point to a cup that is not the next in line.  This becomes a little more abstract as the child needs to think through the repeating core of the pattern and use that to predict what’s hidden under a particular cup.  As always, ask the child to explain her thinking.

## Building Math Skills with Halloween Candy

Halloween candy seems like an unusual place to find math. But, it turns out, there are some great skill-building activities that can be done with these yummy treats….all in the context of something kids love – candy!

Here are four fun and educational post-trick-or-treating activities:

~ CANDY SORT ~

Have your child place all their candy in a pile. Ask her to sort the candy into groups. As she is sorting, ask her why she chose the groups she did. Then see if she can sort them another way. This is a building block to algebraic thinking as kids look for specific attributes that define each group.

~ COUNTING and COMPARING ~

Once your child has sorted her candy, organize them into rows. Then count how many there are in each group. Help her write the number down on a small piece of paper or sticky note and label each group with its number. When all groups have been labeled, ask questions such as Which group has the most? Which group has the least? How many more Skittles are there than Milk Duds? How many more Kit Kats would you need to have the same number of Hersheys? Have your child help you order the sticky note numbers from smallest to greatest.

~ GEOMETRY ~

Discuss the different shapes you see in each piece of candy. For example, candy corn looks like a triangle, Whoppers look like spheres, and a Kit Kat bar is made up of rectangles.

~ GRAPHING ~

Similar to organizing the candy into rows like we did above, your child will be using graph paper to turn those rows into a bar graph. The graph in the photo reflects vertical bars but you can also make the bars horizontal. Decide if you want to go big and graph all their candy, or keep it smaller and graph one small bag of a candy like Skittles or M&Ms.

And, finally, subtraction! If I have six Milky Ways and I eat them all, what’s left? …a very upset tummy.

Happy Halloween!