Make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but with a math twist. If your child can't eat peanut butter, use cream cheese instead. Use cookie cutters or a knife to make shape sandwiches. Cut out triangles, circles, rectangles, and hexagons. As you do, ask your child to name each shape and count the sides.
Celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday by playing a shape game with The Cat in the Hat.
Get a small ball and two books. Put something under one end of a book, so it slants to form a ramp. Put something bigger under the other book, so it slants even more. Measure how far the ball rolls down each of the ramps. Compare the distances. Ask your child, "Why did one ball roll farther than the other?"
What day of the week does March 31 fall on? Give your child a calendar to find out. What about the last day of next month?
Go on a color hunt with your child, and show her how to make a tally to keep track of her finds. Ask your child to pick a color, and then find as many things around the house that are that color. Give her a time limit. When the time is up, ask her to count her tally marks.
Get five objects that are easy to tell apart. Show your child the objects. Talk about what they are and count them together. While your child's eyes are closed, put two of the objects in a bag. Ask her, "How many are in the bag?" and then "What is in the bag?"
Fill a bowl with cereal that is made up of pieces that are the same size, such as Cheerios. Ask your child to scoop out a spoonful and guess how many pieces of cereal are on the spoon. Now tell him to count them to check her guess.
Play a version of Simon Says that will help your child learn about patterns. For example, "Simon says put your hands on your head, shoulders, and waist; head shoulders, and waist; head, shoulders, and waist." Ask her to repeat the pattern, and then try another one.
Get four different sized pans with lids. Put the lids on one side of a table and the pots on the other. Now, ask your child to put each lid on its matching pot. You can also do this with plastic storage containers.
Kids love to count along with the classic rhyme Ten Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed. Check out a version from your library, and read it with you child. This is a great way for kids to get practice counting from 1 to 10 — forward and backward!
Go apple picking with Curious George. In this online game your child will also learn about sequencing numbers.
Introduce your child to the concept of fractions by cutting up an apple. First cut it into two halves and then into four quarters. Ask your child to "put the apple back together again" by re-assembling the halves or quarters into a whole.
Counting games are a fun way to pass the time when you are on a car trip with your child. For example, see who'll be the first to find 10 trucks, 6 blue cars, or 9 hotels. You can also count out-of-state license plates.
Play a guessing game. Think of a number and give your child clues, such as, "I am thinking of a number between 10 and 40. You say it when you count by 10's. It is not 20.
Make a list of the months. The letters of each month should be directly under those of the previous month, so you can accurately compare their lengths. Give the list to your child and ask, "Which month has the longest name?", "Which has the shortest name?", and "Are any names the same length?"
Your child uses a pan balance in this online game to help May weigh different kinds of rocks in Sid the Science Kid's Super-Fab-Lab.
Ask your child to draw two three-leaf clovers. How many leaves are there all together? Draw a third one. Now how many leaves? Draw two more. Count by threes and find out how many leaves there are now.
How many rectangles can you find around the house? Give your child a pencil and paper, and ask him to make a mark for every rectangle she sees (e.g., book, table top, window pane, etc.).
Does March have more or less days than April? What about September? Give your child a calendar to find out.
Celebrate spring by planting grass, but not in a garden! Make eggshell people with grass "hair." Give your child an empty eggshell with the top third removed. Ask her to draw a face on it. Fill it with potting soil and sprinkle grass seed on top. Keep the soil moist. When the "hair" begins to grow, measure it every few days.
Introduce your child to spatial vocabulary such as under, above, up, and down . Talk with your child about how some plants grow down, under the ground (e.g., carrots and potatoes) and some plants grow up, above the grown (e.g., corn and tomatoes).
Ask your child to tell you which season comes after spring. What season is before spring?
Invite your child to collect two or three different kinds of items from around the house or outdoors. Put them all in a container, and then help her sort them into groups by type (e.g., pencils, coins, buttons, rocks, leaves, etc.). Get more sorting ideas here.
Challenge your child to count to 24 by twos.
Ask your child to count to 25 by fives, both forward and backward!
If it's a nice day, your child can get some exercise and also learn about measuring time. On your driveway or sidewalk draw a chalk line. Draw another one about 12 feet away. Tell your child you want her to run back and forth between these lines for a minute.
On index cards, write the numerals from 1 to 10 (one numeral per card). Mix them up and spread them out on a table. Ask your child to line the numerals up in order from smallest to largest. Then ask her to line them up from largest to smallest.
On index cards, write the words for the numbers 1 to 10, one number word per card. On another set of index cards write the numerals for the same numbers. Invite your child to match the numerals to the words ( e.g., "7" to "seven"). For younger kids, use dots instead of words.
Turn all 20 index cards from yesterday's activity face down. Invite your child to play a number memory game. Ask him to turn over two cards at a time and find all the numeral/number word pairs (e.g., the card with the "7" is a match for the card with the number word "seven".
Use a pencil to measure a piece of furniture such as a couch, table, or bed. How many pencils long is it? How many pencils high? Now measure the item again with a shorter pencil. Compare the two measurements. Discuss with your child why they are not the same.
Play a number riddle game with your child. Say, "I am thinking of a number. When you add "1" to it , you get "6". What's my number?" Now ask your child to think of a number riddle for you to solve.