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Creativity is the natural extension for the mind

4 to 7 Years Olds

Math Games: Math does not have to be a dry, abstract or tedious lesson. The mind naturally is counting things every minute of the day all the way from how long it takes to do things to how far things are away, to how many things. There is definitely a sense of satisfaction the mind achieves with the ability to calculate and make sense of the world from this point of view.

Here is a resource I strongly suggest: it uses small wood blocks to make math stories and activities. They are called Cuisenaire Rods:

One of the basic uses of Cuisenaire Rods is to provide a model for the numbers 1 to 10. If the white rod is assigned the value of 1, the red rod is assigned the value of 2 because the red rod has the same length as a “train” of two white rods. Similarly, the rods from light green through orange are assigned values from 3 through 10, respectively. 

The rods can also be used for acting out subtraction as the search for a missing addend. For example, 5 minus 2 can be found by placing a red rod (2) on top of a yellow (5), then looking for the rod which, when placed next to the red, makes a train equal in length to the yellow.

Multiplication, such as 5 times 2, is interpreted as repeated addition by making a train of 5 red rods or of 2 yellow rods.

Division, such as 10 divided by 2, may be interpreted as repeated subtraction (“How many red rods make a train as long as an orange rod?”) or as sharing (“Two of what color rod make a train as long as an orange rod?”).

Cuisenaire Rods also make effective models for decimals and fractions. If the orange rod is designated as the unit rod, then the white, red, and light green rods represent 0.1, 0.2, and 0.3, respectively. If the dark green rod is chosen as the unit, then the white, red, and light green rods represent 1⁄6, 2⁄6 (1⁄3), and 3⁄6 (1⁄2), respectively. Once the unit rod has been established, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of decimals and fractions can be modeled in the same way as the operations with whole numbers.

Cuisenaire Rods are suitable for a variety of geometric and measurement investigations. Once students develop a sense that the white rod is 1 centimeter long, they have little difficulty in accepting and using centimeters as units of length. Since the face of the white rod has an area of 1 square centimeter, the rods are ideal for finding an area in square centimeters. Since the volume of the white rod is 1 cubic centimeter, the rods can exemplify the meaning of volume as students use rods to fill up boxes. Students may even develop a sense of a milliliter as the capacity of a container that holds exactly one white rod. Cuisenaire Rods offer many possibilities for forming and discovering number patterns both through creating designs that are growing according to some pattern and through finding the number of ways in which a rod can be made as the sum of other rods. This second scenario can lead to the concept of factors of a number and prime numbers.

Activities 

  1. Addition and subtraction: Ask the child to find two white blocks. Place them in a train, side by side. Now ask them; how many blocks do you have? Now to represent this number 2, find one block that is the same length as this train. This would be a red block as it is made of two one blocks. This can be written down as 1 + 1 = 2. Use the same technique to add different numbers. This can also be used for the concept of subtraction: Take a red block and place a white block on top of it. What is left over? Look for the block size that fits in the space. It is another white block: 2 – 1 = 1. The other blocks can be used to try out all the variations of subtraction. Such as the brown block (8) minus one white block (1) minus a red block and a light green block:  8-1-2-3 = ? (Answer: the red block or 2). 
  2. Division and multiplication: Find the block that represents 10. Then find two blocks that equally divide this ten block into two. This would be two yellow blocks. The child can see that placing two yellow blocks together is the same length as one orange block. Then place 10 white blocks under these two trains. The main idea: The yellow block represents five, 5 times two is ten.

This can be written as: 10 ÷ 2 = 5 or
5 x 2 = 10

Variations on this theme: Use the 4 purple block divided by two. Find two blocks that have the same length as the purple block; this would be two red blocks. Therefore 4 ÷ 2 = 2

Here is a link to purchase the Cuisenaire Rods: Click Here

This kit comes with instructions and activities.
Enjoy!