Flower Addition

marvelous math header

Whew.  What a crazy busy month it has been!  I’m not really sure how it’s already the end of the month!  When I was a kid, April was the longest month of the year after December… since my birthday is the 30th!  But as an adult, it seems that the month gets shorter and shorter every year!

Because it’s been so crazy around here, my posts this month have been sporadic at best… so I’ve decided to continue my Marvelous Math mini series through the month of May, because I really do have a lot of wonderful ideas to share with you.  I’m not a huge fan of math myself, but Becca certainly is, so I’m learning new ways to make it fun and exciting for her using materials and games that she loves.  Today’s flower addition activity is no exception.  She loved it, and I’m already thinking I need to make her another set of these.

apr 28 addition flowers

This idea was born on a rainy day when we were stuck inside, but looking out at the beautiful colors of the wildflowers around our house as they soaked in the moisture… Becca loves adding and subtracting – we do it all day long with food, toys, couch pillows, etc… but it’s usually with smaller numbers, and because it’s verbal, she doesn’t see it written out on paper.  So this activity combines what she is used to (adding the “flower” pompoms) with the visual aid of seeing the addition process as well as the vertical math problem in written form.

All you need is THIS FREE PRINTABLE (looks best printed in color/works best on card stock- but not required), a bunch of pompoms and glue, and you are set!  I wrote the vertical problems on paper with a marker as we went through and did the activity, and then just cut out around them and taped to the wall next to the sheets.  You wouldn’t have to do that, but I feel like the visual of the vertical math problem is helpful to start making those connections that addition can take on many different formats.

If teaching math isn’t something you’re super familiar with, here’s how I talked Becca through this sheet:

  • First, we only looked at one page at a time (my original idea was to do these on four different days, but she got so excited about it that we ended up doing them all at one sitting!)
  • We would look at the number at the end, and I reminded her the equal sign means total – our total number of flowers will be 10.  SO, let’s figure out how we’re going to make 10.
  • Then we would count the first addend (the first set of flower stems).  Ok, so we need 5 pompoms.  She would pick a color and count them out.  You could mix your colors, but I liked Becca to use all the same color for the set so that she had the visual of them being alike – this will help when we get further down the road in math and start identifying the type of units we are adding.  (If your kids are ready for this topic, you’d of course want both sets to have the same color so that you are adding LIKE objects.)
  • Then we would count the second added and add them, counting up as we went (so the second set of 5, we started counting at 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).  I did glue dots above each flower stem as she counted them and then she would add the pompom to the glue.  Obviously, a good practice of fine motor skills would be to have the child handle the glue, but Becca was frustrated with the glue bottle, and our focus wasn’t on fine motor, but on math, so I did the glue so that she wouldn’t loose her focus in her frustration.
  • Then I would write the vertical math problem – Ok, so 5 flowers + 6 flowers equals 11 flowers.  Note that as I did it, I was already identifying the units verbally – so that she’ll start to get that idea.  She’s just not ready yet for me to explain the concept and make sure that we are adding like units.  Remember that you’re never too early to start planting an idea, they just might not grasp the full concept for a while, and that’s ok!!
    For example, she said the word strawberry sort of slowly yesterday, so I asked her how many parts she hears in that word, and did a teensy lesson on syllables right there while I was fixing her dinner.  Doesn’t mean she’s fully ready to grasp the concept, but it’s been mentioned and is working in her brain.  I’ll bring it up several more times over the course of the next few weeks, and judge when she’s ready for a more in-depth lesson based on her response.  As for the units, I’m waiting to hear her verbally adding something and adding unit names to it.  Yesterday she was adding Duplos and started to get there – she said, “I have three blocks and two and that’s five!”  So she started by naming her units, but isn’t fully there yet.  I encouraged her by repeating and saying, “That’s right, you have three blocks and two blocks, which makes five blocks!  Good adding!”  I’ll know she’s ready to start adding like units when she is regularly verbalizing her units… then we’ll talk about well, ok, so these are red blocks and these are blue blocks.  So you have three red blocks plus two blue blocks equals five blocks total.  Then, we’ll take the next step forward to discuss the concept of comparing apples to oranges.  Remember that it’s easy in our adult minds to make leaps forward that our kids aren’t ready for yet.  The term “baby steps” has been coined for a reason.  Take it slow and be patient… which is the pot calling the kettle black over here… I struggle with patience regularly!!

Need more tips on teaching your kids math, or more fun math activities?  Check out my math page here, and be sure to visit my Facebook page regularly for more tips that I share from other bloggers as well!

Measuring with Duplos

marvelous math header

I’m excited to share that our Tuesday Mini-Series for April is “Marvelous Math!”  We do so many fun math activities that I just never have time to share them all on STEAM Thursdays… so this month every Tuesday will have a different fun math activity!  I definitely have a little math lover growing up under my nose… so I’m learning to really encourage that by doing some fun activities with her!  I hope you’ll enjoy this month of Tuesdays!

Quite a long time ago, I was super super active on Pinterest.  Like an every day, multiple hours a day user.  So I have a vast library of pins (over 4100) that make an awesome resource for me when I’m willing to take the time to sift through and find what I’m looking for.  (That’s why sometimes I just tell you – I know the idea came from someone else, but I just can’t find the source.)  Well, so anyway, a couple weeks ago, I sat down and sifted through my Lego Learning board, where I saw this idea from Anna at The Imagination Tree (I love her blog!).  I stored it away in my brain, and shared it with a dear friend.  So one day when I had very little inspiration to do anything with “school,” I texted Naomi and said “tell me what I should do!!!  I’m lost!”  And she gave me some ideas.  Measuring with Duplos was one of them, and it was perfect for that moment.

So, I whipped up a little worksheet for us to record our findings on, gathered up some items for us to measure, and the activity began!  Becca had so much fun with her Duplo ruler, that she kept wanting to measure more and more!  So, I made another recording sheet – this time to take a longer ruler outside to measure things in our yard.  She LOVED getting outside, and was soon trying to measure all kinds of things that weren’t on our recording sheet.  So, I created another recording sheet for her using more household items found in our kitchen.  And we went to town once again.  I’m telling you, folks, this girl LOVES to measure!  She’ll be ready for a real ruler very soon.

apr 7 measuring with duplos


She was so funny about measuring the swing, though.  I purposefully put something on there to measure the width… that I knew was longer than her Duplo ruler.  I wanted to see what she would do.  She got frustrated.  And just told me to record “too many” as to how many Duplos wide the swing is… We have since talked about other things that are longer than her ruler and how to place her finger or another object to mark where the end of the ruler is, and move it to continue counting.  That’s still a concept that is fairly challenging for her.  We’ll continue to work on it!

The best part about all of this?  I’m sharing my recording sheets with you!  Obviously, feel free to record your own, and please share with us in the comments what your kids love to measure!

Click here to download the FREE PDF document with three recording sheets.
Please note – all of the photos used on these recording sheets were just copied over from Google images.

Did you like this activity?  Please pin the photo to your own Pinterest boards, share this post on Facebook, etc!  I do these things with Becca to enhance her learning, but I share them with you to hopefully inspire you and your kids to keep learning!  If it does inspire you, please pass it on and inspire someone else! 🙂