Most days, after lunch, I offer a variety of math manipulatives for the children to
learn play with. They don't realize that they are sorting, patterning, organizing data, or learning, they are too busy enjoying the materials. I change what's available each day, and make sure there are both open ended activities and more structured choices available. The kiddos use what interests them, or join in with what their friends are doing. I do a lot of watching and listening, and ask "what if..." and "could you..."
On the table in the foreground you can see children using felt rectangles to define their space as they work with plastic beads shaped like vehicles, and a toy with foam shapes to sort.
I have a dozen or so baggies with buttons in them for our Venn diagram sorting. As you can see, this one has red/black/both, others have options like star/blue/both, or yellow/flowers/both. I started with my button box, and made sets with what I had on hand.
Look how this child is using the cuisenaire blocks to build a 3D structure. I love how she is using a blue and an orange block in this picture, but in the following one she has changed to 2 blue ones (of equal length) to support a crosspiece.
Here's a close up of the vehicle beads. We've only had these a couple of weeks, and most of the children are still sorting by vehicle type. One day last week I joined in the play and sorted by translucent/opaque and sub sorted by color. A couple of kiddos joined in. I'll watch and see if that idea reemerges.
Here the kiddos are playing a game of Grab and Graph Pattern Blocks, a freebie I found via Pinterest, at http://petersons-pad.blogspot.jp/search/label/graphs. They grabbed a handful of blocks, sorted, counted, then graphed. Awesome activity!
Here the children are using mini erasers to sort. We're using the felt rectangles to define our work spaces. You can see how this child started out by stacking the yellow and green rectangles, then carefully sorted triangles and butterflies, before running out of steam on the various other shapes and colors. Look how proud she is of her work! She'll keep choosing math games to play, because she's having fun while she learns.
This fun game is called Mosaic Mysteries, and came from Discovery Toys many years ago. It is made up of hundreds of variously colored trapezoids, and just fitting them into the hexagon board is a puzzle, as the children have to orient each trapezoid differently so they all fit together. Here you can see this kiddo worked really hard to recreate a pattern with the blocks.
Here are some more pattern blocks. In this case, the boys have worked together to fill a space completely. Several of the shapes fit together in a lot of ways, but the squares and narrow diamonds have different angles than the other shapes, and provide a real challenge.
This is a money counting game I came up with. We enjoy the Jack Hartman song "Show Me the Money" on youtube.com, so I took the words, added images of coins, and made a game board. The children roll the dice and take that many pennies. As they are able, they regroup the pennies into nickels, dimes and finally a quarter to end the game. When I very first started teaching, I used fake coins, but I quickly realized the value of using real money. In 18 years of using real money, I've only ever had one child take any home with them! In that same time, hundreds of children have seen and felt and handled real money, and know what it really looks like, and the weight of it in their hands. It is shinier and much more interesting to the kiddos than the fake stuff, which they all know is just a toy. I've saved money by not purchasing fake coins, and I can spend these if I ever need to. Real is definitely better!
Puzzles! We do lots of jigsaw puzzles. Again, I change out what is available all the time, and have puzzles out to meet the needs of all my learners. Many of the kiddos start out with just fitting pegged puzzles together, simply matching the shape of the puzzles and holes.