Math Activity Calendar: May

  • May 1: How Long Is a Month?

    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 2: The Power of Two

    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.)

  • May 3: Drum Month

    Drum out a pattern on a table top, a large pot turned upside down, or anything else that makes a noise when you hit it! Start drumming a pattern and ask your child to finish it (e.g., one beat — two beats — one beat — two beats — one beat — what comes next?) Then ask your child to start a pattern for you to finish.

  • May 4: Homes for Hermit Crabs

    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.

  • May 5: Cinco de Mayo

    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.

  • May 6: Flower Power

    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?

  • May 7: Mother's Day Craft

    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).

  • May 8: Making 8

    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?

  • May 9: Peter Pan Day

    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."

  • May 10: Pancake Breakfast

    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?

  • May 11: Parts of 10

    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.).

  • May 12: Understanding Teens

    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.

  • May 13: Frog Jumping Day

    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.

  • May 14: Dance Like a Chicken Day

    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.

  • May 15: Chocolate Chip Day

    Make chocolate chip cookies together, but don't settle for just round cookies. Make cookies of different shapes, such as squares, rectangles and triangles! You can even make cookies shaped like numbers, such as the numbers in your child's age.

  • May 16: Hide-a-Shape

    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.

  • May 17: What's it Not?

    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?"

  • May 18: "More ""Not"" Fun"

    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?"

  • May 19: Coin Match

    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.

  • May 20: Paper Fold Art

    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!

  • May 21: Math Mystery Game

    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.

  • May 22: How Many More Days?

    After today, how many more days are left in May? Give your child a calendar so she can count them.

  • May 23: Penny Day

    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?

  • May 24: Race to 100

    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.

  • May 25: Trail Mix Count-Down

    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.

  • May 26: Table Symmetry

    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.

  • May 27: Guess the Pattern

    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.

  • May 28: Sequencing Cards

    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!

  • May 29: Nature Walk

    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.)

  • May 30: How Many Windows?

    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.

  • May 31: Keeping Score

    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.