November 23, 2010

creating math counters with acorns

If you've been reading my blog for even a little while, you already know how necessary colour is in our life and in our homeschooling.

And do I need to mention how essential crafting with natural materials is in our home? Well, it took a rainy, grey fall day and a need to make math more exciting that inspired the creation of these beauties. Acorn math counters. Inspired by nature, and a frugal pocketbook. So simple, and a great alternative to the math workbook grind.
Here's what you need: little people and little hands, acorns with caps intact, acrylic paint/small paint brushes, newspaper to protect your table, and Mod Podge for glazing. You can make as many as you like, but I chose to do 40 acorns, using four colours to paint ten each. I wanted to do 50 but I didn't have enough. I've since been on another collecting walk with the kids and am hoping to soon add 10 more to the set. And yes, my children painted and yes the caps got painted a bit even though I wished they weren't. Adds to the charm, I think.
So you paint your acorns, let them dry and do a second coat. Then generously apply Mod Podge with a paintbrush. Let dry and be patient. I have to be honest, mine stuck to the newspaper and some of the paint/Mod Podge was ripped off when they were removed from the paper. My perfectionist self was driven crazy by this...but again, I decided it adds to their charm. You could choose not to Mod Podge as well and maybe this wouldn't happen since they would dry more quickly. It is up to you!
What I love about these counters is that it transformed the simple addition and subtraction problems for my 7 year old daughter into something fun. We've tried using the abacus, but she gets frustrated so easily and math is something I've got to be more pro-active about making interesting. Because the big kids helped to make these, they have a sense of pride in pulling them out to count with. It has especially made doing those double-digit math problems easier.
And they just look so pretty, in their little wooden tray, ready to be sorted, counted, subtracted and enjoyed. They make great spinning tops too! Here's a great web-site called Squidoo with many, many more math ideas for children. And another web-site filled with wonderful idea about creating your own math toolbox at home. I'm so happy to have discovered these.


TwigandToadstool said...

These are fabulous! What a fun way to "play" with math. Thinking my girls would love this. xo

Jenna said...

Every time I read your blog, I wish you lived down the street from me, so I could stroll down some time and craft with you and your kids! Or eat a delicious Sunday brunch with you, Scott and the little ones. Mmm... brunch!

Erin said...

Ah, thanks're too sweet! Jenna, I wished you lived down the road too because there's pretty much always some craft on the go here. We're a bit addicted...