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For many us, math equals dull lessons, doing equations and holding a pencil until our fingers feel like breaking. Okay, so years ago (when many of us were in school) math was a paper and pencil only subject. There was no creativity in it. Well, things have changed. Now our kiddos get the chance to explore and experiment with math concepts in many different ways. And, what an awesomely amazing advancement that is!
Think about it, what would your child rather do—play or toil over worksheets? Um, I’m pretty sure I know the answer. That’s why I really do enjoy taking basic skills (such as recognizing and using patterns) and mixing them into other areas—namely art. This isn’t to say that visual art is the only way to extend math education. Not by far. Plenty of educators add it to music, movement, science, history or any other subject that it fits into.
This kids’ math activity takes patterns off of the printed page and puts them into your child’s hands. She can explore the painting process, play with felt shapes (bringing in geometry too!) and get abstract in an absolutely artsy way! In other words—she’s learning while having fun too. Your child is also getting the chance to explore the science of coloring mixing, discover through her senses, build fine motor skills and get creative.
We’re going to cover three separate art activities here. That said, you can also combine them into one pattern play math-art activity. Let your child take the lead. After she feels comfortable with the concept of patterning, encourage her to make a multi-media masterpiece! She can add the felt to the painting (collaging it on with glue), paint on the felt or come up with her own imaginative idea. As long as she’s still playing with patterns (which is the central concept here), take all other “lesson” constraints off of your child. This lets her creative side loose. You might just be completely surprised (in a good way) at what you see!
Here’s What You’ll Need:
· Clear-drying school glue
· Card stock paper
· Optional: Paintbrushes (or your child can use her hands)
Here’s What to Do:
Felt Pattern Play
1. Cut at least two different colors of craft felt into shapes. Assign one shape to each color, or make them all the same shape. Your child can draw the shapes on with a marker or try this freehand.
2. Arrange the felt shapes in a pattern. Your child might choose to make an alternating color pattern or alternate the shapes (if you are using at least two different shapes). As your child gets the hang of this, try adding in more colors. For example, she might make a red, green, blue, yellow, red, green, blue, yellow pattern.
Pattern Finger Print Paint
1. Pour at least two (or you can use more) colors of tempera paint onto a palette, paper plate or piece of wax paper.
2. Dip one of your child’s fingers into one paint color. Have her make a print on the paper.
3. Repeat the paint printing step with another color.
4. Continue, making a pattern with the colors. Your child can also add one color of paint to each of her four fingers (this is excluding her thumb). She can press her fingers down on the paper, add more paint to them and repeat to create a pattern.
1. Use the paint that you’ve already poured to make a more sophisticated or complex pattern. Your child can start with her painted fingerprints and move from there or create an entirely new painting.
2. Finger paint (or use brushes) make alternating patterns with squiggles, polka dots, zig zags or anything else your child wants. She can create patterns through the colors or shapes that she paints. Your child can also add extra colors. Invite her to mix the colors that you've given her. She can take three colors, and turn them into a rainbow of hues.
Combine all of the options or keep them separate as their own art and math activities. It’s up to your child!