I wish I had more time to post about my 20 minutes of math play per day quest. If I had the time I would post what we’ve been doing each day, mostly so that I don’t forget what I’ve done!

Anyway, here is another one that happened kind of informally. The other day, my 5 year old daughter was staring at our window in the kitchen.

She looked at me and said, “Mama, what is half of 12?”

Always in awe of her thought process, I answered, “Six!”

She immediately shouted, “You’re right!”

When I asked her how she knew this, she pointed at the window and said that there were six squares in the top half. How she saw this when I only see a window, I’ll never know. Tiny minds are so fascinating!

So I pulled out some playing cards and asked her to figure out half of the pile I gave her. We started small.

This one was way too easy for her. So I gave her a bigger pile. Suddenly, once the pile was bigger, she was all mixed up about how to split it up. I gave her two cups, and told her to give the same to both of the cups.

Her little mind started turning and this is what she ended up with in the end!

At this point we counted both sides to be sure they were the same. Then I showed her how to skip count, so that we could use that shortcut next time.

Math play with a deck of cards is totally endless! We’ve been trying out all sorts of different things like:

- sorting by number and counting them
- sorting by color and counting them
- sorting by shape and counting them
- putting two cards together to find the total number of shapes
- playing war to learn about greater numbers

I forget the power of playing games sometimes, and how it can help with number sense so much. I want to think of ways I can extend this to my third graders to help them with division concepts. We started division this week and it feels like a slap in the face to many of them. I plan to share some real life division with them before even showing any symbols and numbers.

Do you have any card games you play in class? I would love to hear them!

Here are some more awesome math teachers you can connect with to learn more about real life math: