Friday, April 13, 2012

Making Math Fun

As part of our quest to spend more time playing outside this year, the Easter Bunny brought my daughter a set of plastic bowling pins and balls.  Of course, I couldn't leave them alone and had to embellish them. 
My long-suffering husband thinks I'm nuts because absolutely NOTHING is safe in our house. There is starting to be very little around here that I don't add a touch of creativity to. He's really getting scared now because my daughter is following my lead. When I told her I thought we could "fix-up" her bowling set, she immediately brought her set to my studio and eagerly discussed what we could do with them. I believe my husband thinks his tools are next.

Anyway, back to the bowling set (for now).  I took a little FolkArt Paint and some Plaid Simply Stencils and got to work. I used some sand paper to rough-up the place where I wanted to paint, taped the stencil on and starting dabbing paint.

When they were done, I felt like they needed a little something more, so I got out my trusty black Sharpie Marker and outlined the designs. I think they came out really cute.

The great thing about the bowling set is that I can sneak some math lessons in with it. Here are a couple of games you can play with a toy bowling set that encourage math learning:
  1. Have your child set-up the bowling pins in color patterns.  This is an easy way for very young children to start working on early math literacy skills.  They can also set-up the pins in shapes like circles, squares, or triangles.
  2. Add and subtract how many pins are knocked down.  If there are ten pins and they knock down three, ask them how many are left standing.  Younger children can simply count pins while older children should be encouraged to do the math in their head.
  3. Write numbers on the bottoms of the pins and have your children add their "points" up for the pins they knocked down. 
  4. Assign different colored pins different amounts and again have your children calculate their points.
  5. Give your children graph paper and markers or crayons that match the colors of the pins.  Have them chart out which pin colors are knocked down.
See?  Math.  And they don't even know it.  Can you think of some other ways you can use a bowling set for educational purposes?  Leave a comment, I'm always looking for ideas!