April is National Poetry Month. Kids love books written in rhyme, and there are lots that include math concepts. Read one with your child. Two good examples are: Mrs. McTats and Her Houseful of Cats, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, and When a Line Bends... A Shape Begins, by Rhonda Gowler Greene.
Keep track of the rainy days this month. At the end of each day, have your child draw a picture of a raindrop, sun, or cloud next to that day on the calendar. At the end of the month, ask her to count the raindrops and the suns. Were there more rainy days or sunny days?
Take a walk outside. Use position vocabulary as you talk with your child about your surroundings. Ask questions such as: "What do you see in front of us? ; "What is behind us?"; "What do you see above us?" ; "What is under our feet?"
Cut 2-inch strips from two different kinds, or colors, of paper (e.g., construction paper, wrapping paper, newspaper, etc.) Help your child make a paper chain, alternating the two kinds of paper to create a chain pattern.
See how far your child can count by fives — both forward and backward.
How high can you jump? Tape a string to the wall, with the bottom of the string just touching the floor. Ask your child to stand next to the string and jump as high as she can. Put a mark on the string at the highest point of her jump. Use a ruler to measure her jump.
Ask your child to tell you how old he will be in 10 years (add 10 to his current age). How about in another 10 years? Keep going until your child gets close to 100 years-old!
Get four or five plastic eggs. Fill them with different amounts of the same material (e.g., sand, sugar, chocolate chips, etc.). Ask your child to put them in order from lightest to heaviest.
Ask your child to think of names that she might like to name herself. Ask, "What is the longest name you can think of?" and "What is the shortest name you can think of?"
Make a list of the first names of family members. You can also include extended family or friends. Be careful to start each name directly under the first letter of the previous name. Ask your child to look at the list, and tell you who has the shortest name and who has the longest name. Are any names the same length?
Write the numbers 1 through 10 on index cards, one number per card. Put them down in a row with the numbers facing up in the correct order. Ask your child to close her eyes while you remove two or three of the cards. Can she guess which numbers are missing? If this is too easy, try it with 20 cards.
Give your child 12 coins or other small objects. How many equal groups can he create out of the 12 coins? Start off by showing him how you can divide the 12 into two groups of six. Then ask, "How many would you have in each group if you divided the coins into three groups with the same number of coins?"
Make fruit kabobs with two or three different kinds of fruit. Alternate the fruit on the skewers to create a repeating pattern (e.g., strawberry — cantaloupe — strawberry — cantaloupe — strawberry — cantaloupe). Ask your child to create his own fruit pattern for a healthy snack. Yum!
How high can your child reach? Find out by giving your child a sticker and asking her to reach up and stick it to the wall as high as she can. Help her measure the distance from the sticker to the floor.
Tell your child that you are thinking of a secret number. Say, "It is between 10 and 20, and you say it when you count by 5's. What's my secret number?"
Go on a walk with your child and see how many big and small pairs you can find. For example, a big tree and a small tree, a big leaf and a small leaf, a big rock and a small rock. Start off by asking, "Look, there is a big tree. Can you find a small tree?"
Read a story such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Then search around your house for things that come in three different sizes — small, medium and large (e.g., containers, spoons, pictures on the wall, glasses, bowls, pillows, etc.)
Use counting and reasoning skills in this online game to help pet owners find their lost pets at the Animal Lost and Found.
Write the numbers 1 - 12 on the bottom of the cups in an egg carton. Put a button or coin in the carton and shake it. Open the carton and see what number the object landed on. Ask younger children to read the number. For older children, shake it again and ask them to add the two numbers.
Get two egg cartons (one for you and one for your child), one die, and 12 counters for each player (e.g., coins or buttons). Take turns tossing the die and placing that number of counters into your egg carton, one counter per cup. The first person to fill an egg carton wins! But you have to end the game on an exact count, or wait until your next turn to try again.
Suggest to your child that he build a house for his favorite stuffed animal or doll. Give him recycled construction materials such as used boxes, milk cartons, oatmeal containers, etc. Be sure he uses a measuring tool so the house is just the right size!
Take your child on a nature pattern hunt. A pattern is a design that repeats over and over. Look closely and you'll see patterns everywhere — in the veins of leaves, the colors of butterfly wings, and the repeating shapes of a beehive and a turtle shell.
Put four identical pairs of objects into a pillow case (e.g., two paperback books, two plastic bottles, two balls, and two non-breakable cups). Tell your child to reach in and pick out one item, and then reach in again to pick out its matching pair just by feeling for it. Continue, until she has matched all the items.
Which weighs more, an elephant or a car? If your child guesses elephant, he's right! A medium-sized elephant weighs about six tons, and a medium-sized car weighs about two tons. Can your child figure out how many cars weigh as much as one elephant? Show him that 2+2+2 = 6.
Help your child make a simple map of your street (your floor, if you live in an apartment building). Talk about who lives next door, across the street, around the corner, and which two neighbors you live between. This familiarizes your child with position vocabulary, essential to geometry.
This is a good day to eat pretzels! But first, challenge your child to an estimation game. Pour some pretzels into a small bowl. Ask your child to guess how many pretzels are in the bowl. Now count them to find out. How close was her estimate?
Celebrate Arbor Day by planting a small tree. On the first day of each month, help your child measure the tree to see how much it has grown.
Print out a picture of your child. Trim it into a square shape. Cut the square into quarters to create a shape puzzle. As your child puts it back together again, talk about the equal parts of the puzzle (e.g., halves and quarters). After he puts two pieces together, say, "Look, you have half of the puzzle done!"
Help Curious George give his dog friends the right amount of treats so each dog gets its fair share in this online game.
Give your child a piece of paper folded in half. Using water-based paint, ask him to make a hand print with his right hand on the right side of the paper. Label this side "Right". Do the same with his left hand on the left side of the paper. Label this side "Left".