A Pride of Fish? (Age 6)

The Activities

  1. Topic: Comparisons: Book: Too Tall Tina by D. Merritt.
  2. Topic: Measurement: I gave each kid a 12″ ruler and asked them to look around the first floor for something 3″ long.  Then I asked 6″, 11″, and 1″.IMG_2065
  3. Topic: Verbal Discussions: I asked the kids a bunch of questions about what you call groups of things: cows (herd); sheep, birds (flock); wolves (pack); flowers (bouquet, bunch, garden); fish (school); geese (gaggle); cats (?); ants (colony); bees (hive, swarm); lions (pride); people (crowd); whales (pod); witches (coven); rabbits (warren); thieves, robbers, musicians (band); soccer players (team); dancers (troupe, company); soldiers (troop, army, legion); girl/boy scouts (troop); kittens, puppies (litter); math students (circle); cards (deck, pack); grapes, bananas (bunch); books (shelf, stack, library); wheat (field); hay (bale); knives (rack); ships (fleet); stars (galaxy, cluster, universe); planets (solar system); sailors (crew); actors (cast).
  4. Topics: Logic, Numbers: I did an activity from  Math Logic & Word Problems, Gr. 1-2, Guess Benny’s Number and Guess Jenny’s Number.  Each had a series of clues that narrowed down to a single number.  We used a 100 Number Board to keep track of which numbers were eliminated.The first puzzle was
    1. The number has two digits.
    2. Both digits are greater than or equal to 5.
    3. The tens digit is greater than the ones digit.
    4. The sum of the digits is 12.

    The second puzzle was

    1. The number has two digits.
    2. Both digits are less than 8.
    3. The ones digit is greater than the tens digit.
    4. The sum of the digits is 10.
    5. The number is even.
  5. Topics: Counting, Games:  Using the 100 board again, we played the following game.  Each turn, a kid rolled a six-sided die.  They could then advance that number of spaces up to 10 times (so if they rolled a 5, they could advance 0, 5, 10, …, 45, 50).  The goal was to get to 100.  The first time they started at 0, but the second time I had them start at 1 since it’s more interesting.

How Did It Go?

We had three kids this week.

Too Tall Tina

Not much math in this book, but loosely ties into the next activity.

Finding Objects

Some of the kids needed some help measuring at first.  One of the kids spent a lot of time measuring different parts of their mom’s body.  They were pretty excited when they found matching things.


The kids weren’t able to think of many of them — e.g., for cows, they only knew herd once I told them.  One of the few that they did get was bees, where our son got both “hive” and “swarm” right away — which is pretty funny, because he’s rather afraid of bees.  They also got band of musicians, circle of math students, pack and deck of cards, and solar system of planets.  One kid guessed “pride” for fish, and then when we got to lions realized that it actually went with lions.  For stars, with some help one of the kids thought of pictures in the sky, but couldn’t remember the word constellation.

Guess Jenny’s Number

This activity was kind of hard for them.  First, they weren’t that familiar with the concept of ones and tens digit.  Second, it’s pretty tricky that you need to cover all the squares that DON’T match.  They kept trying, though, and with some help, they were able to do it.  One neat thing is you get some nice patterns along the way.  Our 8-year-old daughter worked on one of them after circle, and it wasn’t trivial for her either.

Skip Counting

This was a good exercise for skip counting — the game made it a bit more interesting, but mostly it was about practicing skip counting.  Switching to starting at 1 made for a much more interesting game — the first time, two players finished in 3 rolls.  One of the kids realized that once you were on 96, if you rolled a 3, you should stay on 96 because there are more ways to win, which is the most interesting part of this activity.



Airplanes Are Faster Than Worms (Even Magic Ones)

The Activities

  1. Topic: Counting: Book: I Spy Two Eyes: Numbers In Art by L. Micklethwait.
  2. Topic: Numbers: Using the 100 tile board, I picked about 15 random numbers, and then one kid at a time I named a visible number, which they then had to find and add to the board.  I then added another random number to replenish the 15.
  3. Topics: Transitivity, Verbal Discussions:  I asked the kids questions of the form “If a elephant is bigger than a horse, and a horse is bigger than a dog, which is bigger, an elephant or a dog?”  Some of the problems, like this one, the answer was obvious from the real world; some, you couldn’t tell (e.g., “John taller than Sam, Sam taller than George”); and some were intentionally counter-factual (“Worm faster than car, car faster than airplane”).  I gave each kid the chance to pick a theme for one transitivity problem.
  4. Topic: Programming:  With the help of a parent volunteer, I split the kids into two groups.  Within each group, one kid was the robot (taking turns) and the other 1 or 2 kids made the programs (we used colored gloves as described in earlier circles).  First, they made up whatever programs they wanted, and then I gave them several simple programs to do (go to the wall and back, walk in a square, spin around twice).
  5. Topic: Addition: Book: What’s New At The Zoo?  An Animal Adding Adventure by S. Slade.
  6. Topic: Measurement: I prepared strips of cardboard ranging from 3 cm to 24 cm, which I laid out on a table.  Each kid got a ruler, and I gave each one a different length strip they needed to find.  Each kid found about 3 different lengths.

How Did It Go?

All 5 kids attended.

I Spy Two Eyes

Each page had a work of art with between 1 and 20 of some particular item.  Once we got into the harder pieces I had the kids take turns finding and counting the items.

Tile Board

The kids were pretty good at finding the numbers, but still need practice at finding the number on the board.  We did about 4 times around the table adding numbers to the board.  Then I let them add as many as they could in 2 minutes, but some kids started adding numbers to random places, so we stopped early.  Our son has had a lot of practice with numbers, so I had him sit on the floor and gave him a pile of numbers to sort; and then each time he finished the current set, I would give him a few more to add to his sorted list.


The kids were definitely inclined to use real-life intuition.  For example, for the question “John’s father is taller than John, John’s mother is taller than John, who is taller, the father or mother?” they said the father was taller.  But some of them did explain that it was because fathers are usually taller than mothers.  By the end, I think they did notice the difference between A > B and B > C; vs. B > A and C > A.  The one puzzle that really gave them problems was “A worm is faster than a car, and a car is faster than an airplane, which is faster, worm or airplane?”  A couple of the kids are really into airplanes, so they were sure airplanes were faster.  I said “But it’s a magic worm” and “It’s a slow plane and a fast car”, but even after all that they still were convinced the airplane was faster.  On the other hand, they did pretty well on puzzles like “A grasshopper is yummier than an ant, an ant is yummier than a cockroach”, where there was no real-world knowledge to apply.


Splitting into two groups worked well, with 4 kids making a program for 1 kid, some of the 4 would probably have gotten restless, but with only 1 or 2 kids writing the program, and only 1 or 2 turns to wait before being the robot, they stayed engaged.  As before, the gloves are very helpful for left vs. right.  The other group that I wasn’t leading made very long programs that took the robot into another room.

What’s New At The Zoo?

This book was a series of addition problems, ranging from easy (1 + 2) to harder (8 + 12).  We practiced doing addition by counting up — e.g., 8 + 5 is done by counting 9, 10, 11, 12, 13; keeping track of the number of counted numbers on your fingers.

Measuring Strips

The kids were pretty good at this.  There was some confusion between inches and centimeters though.  They did a good job making sure to line up the strip with 0 at one end, so they were usually correct in their measurements.

Kitties, Cubs, and… Goatlings?

The Activities

  1. Topic: Patterns: Book: A-B-A-B-A- A Book of Pattern Play by B. Cleary.
  2. Topic: Patterns: We made rows of colored glass beads in different patterns.  I gave a starting pattern with 5-6 beads, which they copied and then continued the pattern.  They also each made up a pattern on their own.  Here’s the grid we put the stones in.IMG_1312
  3. Topic: Logic: We did three Halloween-themed logic puzzles.  For example, in the first one, there were 4 monsters and 4 candy buckets, and you have to figure out which one goes with which.  One of the clues is “The ghost likes orange”.  The full set of pictures and clues is available here (including 4 extra clue sets we didn’t do).
  4. Topic: Verbal Discussions: I named a bunch of animals and asked the kids what the baby animals of that type were called.
  5. Topic: Counting: Book: Skip Counting with Meerkats by T. Steffora.
  6. Topic: Counting: We counted by 2’s and 3’s as a group taking turns going around the circle.
  7. Topics: Shapes, Charts: We have a large two-dimensional table with colors on the rows and shapes on the columns.  The task was to place the Attribute Blocks onto the chart.IMG_1314
  8. Topic: Origami: Each kid made the cat from Easy Origami by J. Montroll.

How Did It Go?

All the kids attended.  The kids were mostly attentive through out, although there was the usual “Is it time to go play?” starting about 40 minutes in.

A-B-A-B-A- A Book of Pattern Play

A decent introduction to simple patterns.

Glass Bead Patterns

All of the kids were able to complete all the patterns I made, (which went up to cycle length 4).  They weren’t fooled by an all-blue pattern.  One of the kids said they wanted to make their own pattern, so I gave them time to do that.  One kid used the columns of the grid for their own pattern instead of the rows.

Halloween Logic

The kids did well on this activity.  On several occasions, they remembered an important relevant clue from earlier in order to solve a puzzle.  However, they weren’t quite ready to solve the puzzles on their own — I still needed to ask leading questions several points, particularly on the 3rd (and hardest) puzzle.  The kids were pretty good at following the instructions, but there were a few times where someone said something like “I think the cat likes the hat because a cat can’t use a broom.”

Animal Babies

The kids knew a reasonable number, including kitty, puppy, calf, cub, and duckling.  They didn’t know foal/colt, piglet, tadpole, or gosling.  The most interesting guess was “goatling”.

Skip Counting with Meerkats

One of the kids knew the animals in the pictures were meerkats, from Happy Hollow (or rather, “Danny the Dragon place”).

Counting by 2’s and 3’s

The majority of the kids still aren’t very good at counting by 2’s or 3’s — two can do it reliable, three can’t.

Attribute Block Chart

I was impressed by the kids performance on this task, I remember Circle 1 having some issues, but all the kids got the idea and were able to do it.  Initially a number of the shapes were placed incorrectly because the kids didn’t want to put more than one shape in each box, but once I showed them stacking was ok, they placed all the rest of the shapes without problems.  The kids also put all the shapes back into the box afterwards.


The kids are decent at making folds, but the idea of making a fold from point A to point B, or so that an edge lines up with a given point, is tricky for them.