Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Math Game: Grouping Fish

This math game, based on an idea in the book Count on Math by Pam Schiller and Lynne Peterson, teaches grouping concepts (6 = 5+1, 4+2, 3+3, etc) in a very tactile way for young children.  All I did was put six plastic fish and some colored rice into a ziplock bag, seal the edges with duct tape, and put a line down the center with black electrical tape.  My original idea was to use hair gel and blue food coloring instead of the rice to make 'water' for the fish to swim in, but I didn't have any hair gel on hand, and when I combined blue dishwashing liquid with water it made a bubbly mess.

There's no right way to play the game, but here are some ideas:

1. Shake the bag and then lay it flat so you can see all the fish.   Count how many fish are on each side of the black line.  Note that regardless of the combination, you still have six fish.

2. Show the child two numbers that add up to 6, and challenge her to move the right amount of fish to each side of the black line.  This provides the added challenge of manipulating the fish to get them to move in the bag without being able to pick them up.

3.  Give verbal cues to describe how you want the fish to be placed, like "each side of the line must have fish that are different colors", "put all the blue fish on one side and all the other fish on the other", "put an even number of fish on each side" (for older kids, obviously), etc..

Another idea would be to fill the ziplock with a lot more colored rice and many smaller objects to make an "I-Spy Bag", which could also be used for math by shaking it up and counting the number of objects that appear (some will be hidden beneath) the rice.  The results could be tallied or graphed.

UPDATE: I was so inspired by how much my kids enjoyed playing "IQ games" that I created the La La Logic Critical Thinking Curriculum for 3-6 year olds, which includes online brain challenge games, printable worksheets, enrichment activities and more!

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