February is the shortest month. Most years there are 28 days. But in a leap year, which occurs every four years, there are 29 days in February. This extra day is called a leap day. Look at a calendar with your child to see if this year is a leap year. When is the next leap year?
Can your child see her shadow today? If she can, cut a piece of string the same length as the shadow. Do this two more times during the day, at least two hours apart. Be sure to mark each string with the time of day. What time of day produced the longest shadow? The shortest shadow?
In celebration of Elmo's birthday, play a game with Elmo!
George Washington Carver was an African American scientist and inventor who discovered hundreds of uses for peanuts. Check out a book about him from your library, read it to your child, and then do this fun counting activity with peanut shells.
Ask your child to count by 5's forward and backward to 50. If that is easy for her, tell her to keep going to 100!
Go on a treasure hunt for numbers. If you are on a car trip or running errands around town, challenge your child to find as many numbers as he can between 1 and 100. He'll find them on road signs, license plates, in the grocery store, at the library, and on a menu. Numbers are everywhere!
How many ways can your child make the number 7 (e.g., 5+2, 6+1, 4+3, etc.). For younger kids it might help to use counters such as coins or paperclips.
Give your child a calendar and ask her to tell you how many days are left in February after the 15th. What day of the week is before the 15th? What day of the week is after the 15th?
Did you know that some people are squares and some people are rectangles? Measure your height and measure your arm span. If they are the same, you are a square. If they are different you are a rectangle. Try it, and find out what shape you are!
Show your child a group of 10 objects (e.g., coins, small toys, bottle tops, barrettes) Ask her to close her eyes while you hide some of the objects under a napkin. When she opens her eyes, ask, "How many objects are hidden under the napkin?"
Put a group of up to 5 small objects on a table. Let your child have a quick peek (a couple of seconds) at them, and then cover them up. Ask, "Can you tell me how many objects are under the cover?".
Gather up all those loose pennies around the house, and play a sorting game with your child. Spread the pennies out on a table, and then ask him to sort them into two groups — one for "heads" and one for "tails". Are there more heads or tails? Tell him to guess first and then count to find out.
Take turns tossing a penny. Use tally marks to keep track of how many times the penny lands on "heads" and on "tails". Decide on a time limit, and then add up your tally marks to find out how many heads and how many tails each of you got.
Draw a heart shape. Cut it out and fold it in half so you are left with half a heart. Ask your child to place a small hand-help mirror up to the fold. What does he see in the mirror? A complete heart! Explain that this is because a heart has "symmetry," which means both halves are exactly the same.
Can your child find the matching silly picture patterns in this pattern matching game?
Show your child how to make patterns by moving his body. For example, sit down — stand up — twirl around — sit down — stand up — twirl around — sit down — stand up — what comes next?) For younger kids limit the pattern to alternating sit down and stand up.
Put a variety of objects (e.g., ball, rock, apple, block, puzzle piece) into a bag. Invite your child to reach in, choose an object, and describe it to you. Tell him to guess what it is before pulling it out of the bag. Do the same thing with the rest of the objects.
After February, how many more months are left until the end of the year. Give your child a calendar and ask her to count and find out.
Make up a silly word problem, and then ask your child to create his own. For example: Two elephants are eating in a café. Two giraffes join their table. How many animals are sitting at the table?
Measure your child's height three different ways (e.g., using spoons, blocks and index cards). Talk about what you find out.
Using just the number cards from a deck of cards, invite your child to play the classic card game "War". Deal out all the cards, so each of you has half a deck. Take turns turning over cards. The player who has the card with the highest number takes both cards. The first person to get all the cards wins!
Get on board the Dinosaur Train and join Buddy on a hunt for gems of different sizes, shapes, and colors. This is a fun way for your child to practice geometry and sorting skills.
Find three objects that you can tell are different weights just by holding them (e.g., a pencil, book, and lemon). Challenge your child to put them in order from heaviest to lightest.
Tell your child you are thinking of a number. It is between 5 and 20. You say it when you count by 5's. It is not 10. What's the mystery number?
Tell your child you are thinking of a number that is between 2 and 10. You say it when you count by 2's. It is not 4, and it is not 8. What's the mystery number?
Your child can help Ruff Ruffman cast his new movie. But she'll be asked to do some math challenges as part of Ruff's Hollywood Adventure.
Create an obstacle course in your house using chairs, boxes, pillows, tables, and other easily movable objects. As your child moves through it, ask him to tell you what he is doing by using position words such as around, under, over, next to, right, left, etc.
If the Tooth Fairy left you 50 cents, what coins would be under your pillow? Challenge your child to figure out what different combinations of coins could make 50 cents (e.g., two quarters, five dimes, etc.).
This year is a leap year, which means there is one extra day in February. Today is that extra day, and it is called a leap day. To help your child understand the concept, look for a book about leap years at the library such as Leopold's Long Awaited Leap Year Birthday, by Dawn Desjardins.