To help your child grasp how long a month is, make a paper chain with as many links as there are days in May. Each night ask your child to remove a link and count how many days are left until the end of the month. For younger kids, do this same activity but for a week, using a seven-link chain.
May is American Bike Month. A bicycle is one of many things that has two of something. It has two wheels. Ask your child to tell you some other things that come in twos (e.g., eyes, ears, arms, legs, twins, socks, shoes.)
Show your child a picture of a group of people, such as a family picture or a class picture. Be sure all the people in the picture are easily countable. Ask, "How many eyes are in the picture?" Explain to him that since each person has two eyes, the easiest way to do this is to count by twos.
Oh, no! The hermit crabs are homeless. In this online game, your child can help the Cat in the Hat find shell homes that are just the right size for each crab.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo, and the number 5, by making hand prints! Get a piece of paper that will fit at least five handprints. Give her finger paints to dip her hands into. When she has created five handprints, ask her to tell you how many fingers she has printed. Show her how to count by fives.
Springtime means colorful flowers! Create a color chart by dividing a piece of paper into six columns and writing a color name at the top of each column. Take a walk with your child, and ask him to put a check mark in the appropriate column each time he sees a flower. What color did he see the most of and the least of?
Mother's Day is coming up. Here's a gift your child can make and practice math at the same time. Give her a clay flower pot and water-based paints. Ask her to use two or three of the colors to paint a pretty pattern on the pot. The pattern should repeat itself (e.g., alternating red and yellow stripes, or rows of red, blue, and green dots).
Help your child think up different ways to make the number 8. For example, he could hold up 5 fingers on one hand and 3 on the other. Or he could put out 4 forks and 4 spoons. What other ways can he think of to make 8?
James Mathew Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, was born on this day in 1860. Tell your child to imagine he can fly, just like Peter Pan. "Imagine you are flying over a forest full of animals. Tell me what animals you see and how many, starting with the number 1 and ending with the number 20." For example, "I see 1 parrot, 2 porcupines, 3 lions, and so on."
Write the number 10 on a piece of paper. Then ask your child to count out 10 small objects (e.g., pennies, buttons, paper clips, etc.) and lay them on top of the paper. Show her how to divide the objects into groups of different sizes to see how many ways she can make 10 (e.g., 5 + 5 , 6 + 4, 7 + 3, etc.).
Help your child understand that all numbers between 10 and 20 have 10 at their root. A good way to do this is by making a group of 10 pennies, and then asking your child to count with you as you add one penny to make 11, two pennies to make 12, three pennies to make 13, and so on up to 19.
Make Mom a pancake breakfast, and have fun with geometry at the same time! You’ll need a set of cookie cutters in different shapes (e.g., circle, square, star, triangle). Put a pancake on your plate and cut a shape out of it. Ask your child to tell you about the shape. What is the name of the shape? How many sides does it have?
How far can your child jump? In a flat, grassy area put a string down on the ground and ask your child to run up to the string and then jump as far as he can. Do this three times and then compare the lengths of each jump.
Can your child dance like a chicken for 1 minute? Put on some funky music, say "go!" , and time her for one minute. If she still has energy to burn, time her for another minute.
Ask your child to make up a dance using three different body movements. For example, clap—twirl—jump. Crank up the music and join him in a pattern dance by repeating these three movements over and over again!
Cut out a circle, triangle, square, rectangle, and hexagon. Hide one of the shapes behind your back, and ask your child to guess what it is. Give her clues such as: "The shape has four straight sides that are all the same length. What is it?" Do the same thing with the other shapes.
The word not is a difficult concept for young kids. Here's a way to give your child some practice using it, and learn about shapes at the same time. On a piece of paper, draw a circle and a triangle. Ask your child, "Can you point to the shape that is not a circle?"
Put three objects on a table. Two of the objects should have something in common that the fourth does not have. For example, you could put out a pen, a pencil, and a toothbrush. Ask your child, "Which of these is not used for writing?"
Put several pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters into a sock. Hold up a coin, and ask your child to reach into the sock and find the same coin. But no peeking! He has to find it just by feel.
Fold a piece of paper in half. Open it up, put a small amount of paint on one side, and then fold it again. Rub it so the paint from one side smears onto the other side. When you open it up again, talk with your child about the symmetrical design — the design on one side of the fold is the same as on the other!
Escape from Greasy World is an online game that presents your child with a series of math challenges that must be completed in order to solve a mystery. This is a good game for kids ages 6 to 8.
After today, how many more days are left in May? Give your child a calendar so she can count them.
Give your child a handful of pennies, and ask him to carefully drop them on a table. Are there more heads or more tails visible? Ask him to first take a guess, and then count them to find out. Was his guess more or less than the actual count?
Challenge your child to a 100 race. Use a watch, hour glass, or kitchen timer to time her as she counts to 100. How fast can she count? Have younger kids race to 50.
Enlist your child's help in making a batch of trail mix. Gather together a variety of small edible items such as pretzels, raisins, chocolate chips, and cereal pieces. Ask your child to count out 100 pieces of each one and put them into a bowl. Younger kids can count out less.
Challenge your child to set the table so one side looks exactly the same as the side across from it. Explain to him that when an object has two sides that look the same, the object is said to have symmetry. For example, a face has symmetry.
Write a sequence of four numbers on a piece of paper. Each number should be two more than the previous number (e.g., 3 — 5 — 7 — 9). Ask your child: "Can you see what the pattern is, and tell me what number comes next?" Try other number patterns, or ask your child to make up a pattern for you to solve.
Deal out all the number cards in a deck of cards. The first player puts down her lowest card, of any suit, face up. The player with the next higher card in the same suit places it face up on top. The play continues until the 10 in that suit is played. The last player in the round gets to start the next sequence. The first person to get rid of his cards wins!
Take a nature walk with your child. Give her a bag for all the treasures she finds along the way. If she sees something that interests her, tell her to put it into the bag. When you get back home, help her sort her loot into like piles (e.g., rocks in one pile, twigs in another, shells in another, etc.)
How many windows are there in your house? Ask your child to count and find out. If there are a lot, you might give him some paper and pencil to keep track with tally marks.
Get a small ball or just wad up a piece of paper and take turns with your child shooting it into a "basket" (e.g., wastebasket, bucket, or large pot). Each basket scores two points. Count by twos to keep score.