Light table play – coloured shot glasses

Our latest invitation to play at the light table was a simple selection of colourful plastic shot glasses. For the first few days only the glasses themselves were on offer and it was interesting to see the different ways each age group approached their play.

I had to resist the urge to show the younger children how to build with them, knowing that given enough time they would figure it out for themselves. They initially used the glasses to construct in a way I had not thought of; laying them down and creating 2D style robots and spaceships. My 2 year old was quite content stacking and unstacking the cups and sorting them by colour. There was some counting as they wondered how many layers they would need to use exactly 100 cups in a tower.

 

After a few days of playing and constructing with just the cups themselves, I added 3 plastic rulers and some see-through plastic cars. This opened up a whole new realm of play as the older children in particular worked together to make balancing structures and car garages.

There are many simple “hacks” out there for making your own inexpensive light table; see this post for links to my Pinterest page.

Toddler activities: flower arranging

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My friend Kristy has come up with another simple and captivating activity for her 2-year-old to use for highchair timetable time or blanket time. An upturned colander, a couple of vases and containers and a variety of cheap artificial flowers gave her little one some creative fun while she practised her fine-motor skills as she carefully poked the flowers into the holes.

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I’ll be adding this one to my “to do” list for the future.

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Light table play – our new toy

 

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We have been blessed this week to acquire a new  light table through our local secondhand buy, sell and trade list – for free!! It does have a crack along one edge of the glass (thus the piece of wood we clamped along one side), but other than that, all it needed was to have the legs cut shorter and a new fluorescent light fitted to make it a working entity (thanks Dad 🙂 )

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We added a couple of different materials for the children to experiment with to get them started and it was a hit. These magnetic construction tiles glow beautifully and pretty much anything plastic or acrylic looks attractive with the light behind it. Of course the boys had a car involved within the first 5 minutes and a Duplo man or two soon joined the mix.

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We tried a few different materials just to see what looked good and my 2 year old spent some time sorting out all the pink items; her “best ones” as she called them.

I wasn’t sure we would use it that much, but after searching through Pinterest I now have enough ideas to keep us going for a very long time. I’ll be posting some more of these as we change what’s available.

If you don’t have a light table but would like to make one, there are several simple “light table hacks” as they are usually termed on Pinterest. They range from altering an Ikea children’s table to putting strings of LED Christmas lights inside crates. They would all make a serviceable light box without too much fuss or cost, depending on your level of handyman ability.

We love it so far and it is just the thing to keep little people productively occupied while I am feeding my twin babies. When we get sick of it I’ll send it off for a vacation at one of my homeschooling friend’s houses.

 

 

 

Hands-on maths; multiplying, clocks & time, sequencing and skip counting.

Here are the last couple of tray activities for our hands-on maths this term. While I have changed the way we are using the trays (Yes – again!) it has worked well to have the concepts we are covering in our Math-u-see books available for hands-on practise using concrete materials. As the children work through their books they are able to stop and spend extra time on a new skill using the trays if it is not immediately grasped from the instruction DVD that goes with the written material.

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Curtain rings and flat wooden beads work well to illustrate the concept of “lots of” or “groups of” as the children learn basic multiplication skills.

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These clock and time cards printed out from the internet start with a set of just the hours, then minutes, then half hours and finally a mixture of all 3. I googled clock/time worksheets and printed them before cutting them up. There are lots of options available online.

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Learning to sequence numerals is made easy with the use of a number strip to follow. Initially the children use only the numerals 1 to 5 then up to 10, then 30 and so on. Eventually the number strip is removed as well.

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Skip-counting and money concepts can be learnt by marking each interval with paper triangles and laying out real coins. I happen to have a bunch of one and two cent coins stashed away so we use those as well, although I do make sure the children know they are no longer legal currency.

Hands-on maths; rounding numbers

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Free printable number strips below.

While I have a moment I thought I’d continue to post about our maths activities with free printables for each activity.

Using a number line to teach children the concept of rounding to the nearest 10, 100 or 1000 helps to make the concept a little clearer. I printed out these number strips and used a hole punch to make holes above each number. The children select a number card, poke a golf tee into the hole closest to that number and then count the holes or hops it takes to reach the nearest 10/100/1000 in each direction. The smaller the number of hops, the closer the number and therefore they know which way to round; up or down.

This skill requires a firm grasp of number order and an understanding of place value in order for a child to be successful. The printable strips start with a blank space so that they overlap slightly and can be laid out in one long number line 0 to 100, 100 to 1000 and 1000 to 10000.

For your free printable number lines and number cards click here:

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Hands-on maths; ordinal number

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(Free printable ordinal number cards below)

For a child who has a strong grasp of numbers and number order, ordinal number is a simple concept. Applying the labels of first, second, third etc. is something that children are exposed to in their everyday life. Every child is familiar with the phrase “Me first!”

This activity tray takes the concept of ordinal number and gives children practise in using it to label the order of runners in a race, months of the year and days of the week.

For your free printable ordinal number cards and awards click here: days of the week & months of the year and here: race track & position ribbons.

For more hands-on maths ideas see my free printables for addition, subtraction, and solving for the unknown.

 

Hands-on maths; subtraction activity trays

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(Free printable subtraction cards below)

Today I am continuing with my hands-on maths series (addition here, solving for the unknown here) with subtraction activities for hands-on learning. This (above) is what the “activity centre” looks like on my shelves. I would love to have it all spread out on individual trays but there is just not enough room. A simple plastic box and re-purposed desk organiser do the job and the children take out the materials they wish to use for the day.

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You can use any materials you like but it is helpful if there is some way to clearly show that they have been subtracted or taken away. I have out wooden craft pictures that are turned over as they are subtracted, miniature fruit erasers that stand up and are then laid down as they are taken away, double sided 2-colour counters, Duplo blocks and some random plastic connecting pieces that clearly have 2 different sides. You can have the children physically move the pieces or put them in a separate container or some other method of showing that they are subtracted but I think it is good to be able to still see how many have been taken away as it helps with self-correction of errors.

The children choose one set of subtraction cards at a time to work on, beginning with the easier subtract 1 or 2 cards and then moving on to the more difficult combinations once they are able to do these without needing manipulatives. The aim is to have these basic maths facts committed to memory or so quickly worked out mentally that higher level mathematical skills based on them are not slowed down by having to work out the simpler steps. For your copy of my free printable subtraction cards click here: vertical-subtraction.)