Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Puzzles For Math

Yet another great math skill you don't need to pull your hair out to teach! Math is all about matching, making connections, and finding patters... so what object that is most likely all ready in your home can you use to teach this? PUZZLES!

Not just one type either, here's a whole list of puzzle ideas to use with your kids!

Traditional Puzzles Made For Kids:
Shape Sorting Boxes and Cubes:

Empty Bottles and Lids:
Wait what? You can use all those old shampoo, body wash, and hair gel bottles to teach kids? YES YOU CAN! Just make sure you wash them out well first. Then take all the screw top lids off and let your child figure out which one fits no which bottle! Great problem solving! And, the best part is you don't even have to teach them to do it! Let them play with the bottles long enough and they'll figure it out! (Caution: this should be strictly supervised with kids under 3 and some lids maybe small enough to choke on.) 

Cookie Cutters: 
Here's an awesome idea kids LOVE! Make a bunch of cookies each from a different cookie cutter. Now have your kids match up the cookie cutters to the finished (baked and cooled) cookies! If they can find the matching one they can eat the cookies after dinner! :) Use Alton Brown's Sugar Cookie Recipe (its delicious) and while you're at it Use THIS TEACHING IDEA to get a little measuring math in! 

My daughter and I have used fruit to play "which one doesn't belong" (you can use fresh fruit or pretend fruit from a cooking set). Place two bananas and an apple on the table (as an example), ask "which one is different" this teaches matching from "the other angle". It's an amazing skill, however don't be too upset it if takes them a little extra time to catch on. At first my daughter just wanted to name all the fruits :) I praised her for that but kept trying. We got to where she wanted to tell me the colors. She could tell she wasn't giving me the information I wanted so she moved on. She eventually got it! 

Here are a few of the tools we've used to learn matching, and patterns. But there are thousands of creative ideas out there. What are some of your favorite teaching tools you've used at home? 

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