Today we’re sharing how we use an every day game and household item like checkers in math for preschoolers and a pre-coding activity. Coding for kids is a new and very important skill. You can swing by our coding for kids Pinterest board for more ideas. Checkers are a basic manipulative that can be counted, patterned, sorted, and used in step-by-step tasks for pre-requisites to coding without a computer or app.
We play a game of checkers
a few times a week. It’s always a hit when we need a little down time or quiet game. We’ve been using my husband’s old checkerboard from his younger days, so it’s a game that we’ve always had around the house. Recently, we’ve been using the game pieces in math activities with my preschoolers and school-aged kids.
The bright and bold colors of the checkers pieces makes them a great patterning tool. Preschool-aged kids can practice AB, ABA, ABB, BAA, and more complicated patterns. Patterning is a skill needed in coding, so this is a great beginning skill to develop.
Ask your preschoolers to sort the colors into stacks and piles of red and black chips. Manipulating the chips really can be challenging to a child’s fine motor skills. Be sure to read up on our manipulating coins fine motor post for information on in-hand manipulation, translation, stacking with coins and chips.
Work on counting with the chips. Count them out into columns of tens. Practice counting by base ten and and adding ones to get double digits. Remove single chips to practice subtraction from double digits.
Pre-Coding Activity for Kids with Checkers
A big part of coding (at least what I understand from my husband) is the task of getting from one point to another in a problem while thinking out the process before it happens. We love to play a game of “Shifting Pyramids” with our checkers board.
To play Shifting Pyramids:
Use the pieces to form a pyramid with ten red chips on one side of the checkerboard and a pyramid with ten black chips on the opposite side of the checkerboard. Only black squares are used for the game. Players move their men forward, either by single spaces or by jumping their own or their opponents’ men in a single jump or a series of jumps. Men that are jumped are not removed from the board. The winner is the player who re-forms his pyramid on the opposite side of the checker board.
Playing Shifting Pyramids requires a player to think ahead as they attempt to flip their pyramid to the other side of the checkerboard. We typically play with only one pyramid to begin with (all red or all black pieces) to work out the steps of flipping the pyramid. Often times, a pattern of chip movements develops. Further the activity by using the red and black chips as symbols and create a message with the “code”.
To work on more pre-coding skills, stop by and visit our coding for kids Pinterest board. You’ll find activities related to patterns, strep-by-step thought processes, abstract thinking, using symbols, and more.
Looking for more coding games and activities? Try some of these pre-coding games for kids:
Kids can learn fractions while cooking with kids in the kitchen using tools you already have. We used measuring cups and measuring spoons to discuss parts, whole, and fractions while doing a little cooking with kids recently.
Teach fractions with measuring cups and kitchen tools:
This post contains affiliate links. We used measuring cups and spoons that we already had, making our learning activity free. There are many
kid-friendly measuring cups
out there that are plastic, large handled, and no-spill. I love the bright colors of these
measuring cups and spoons, which are perfect for kids in the kitchen. While there are many kid-friendly cooking utensils out there, just grab whatever you’ve got in your kitchen for learning fractions with the kids for a free (or almost free) learning activity at home.
To practice fractions with kids, fill a large basin with water. Using the measuring cups, show your child the one cup and half-cup measuring cup. You can demonstrate how the half-cup utensil will fill up the one cup utensil with two scoops. Then remove one half of the water by dumping the water back into the bin. Ask your child how many scoops it took to remove the water from a one cup (whole) cup.
Continue the process using the 1/3 and 1/4 measuring cups. By adding scoops of water, kids can get a visual on how the parts make up a whole.
Continue the fractions discussion by scooping and measuring with the tablespoon and 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoons and the teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, and 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoons.
You know we love a great craft made from recycled materials, right? Recycled items seem to make a reoccurring appearance on our blog. And, here’s a little secret: I LOVE crafting and encouraging playful learning with recycled stuff because it’s re-purposing and environmentally cool, but it’s also FREE! You have the materials already in your home, and are just going to be tossing them away (whether it’s into the garbage or the recycle bin…so why not learn and play first?) We made this caterpillar craft from a recycled egg carton and added a math twist to add a little adding and 1:1 correspondence number counting to provide a multi-age learning tool for three of my kids, ages 3, 5, and 7. (The baby just want to to pull the googly eyes off of the caterpillar. Which is a sort of subtraction…)
Math Caterpillar Craft (from a recycled egg carton!)
This post contains affiliate links.
We pulled a recycled egg carton from the recycle bin. Cut one long section of carton. Paint the sections to make the caterpillars body and head. We love these paints for their bright colors.
Grab some yarn and have the kids snip little 2 inch pieces. This is fabulous scissor practice. Holding the wiggly yarn while snipping sections encourages bilateral hand coordination that is needed for managing paper and scissors while cutting shapes from paper and worksheets.
Math concept: Encourage your child to count the sections of yarn into groups of three.
Tape the yarn legs onto the caterpillar’s body.
Glue on googly eyes and draw on a smile.
Caterpillar math activity:
We played a few math games with the caterpillar.
Count out craft pom poms, encouraging 1:1 correspondence. Counting items is an important preschool math concept that is used in addition and subtraction in later grades. My first grader often uses counting manipulates as a technique for adding multiple digit addition/subtraction problems and counting too quickly can lead to errors.
Use the pom poms to feed the caterpillar. Sort them into piles by color and patterns and make the caterpillar eat the pom poms by pushing them under the head. Write out the math subtraction problems.
How cute is this little guy? Make him and other fun recycled crafts for learning and play.
Math is such a fun subject for kids to learn. They begin at such a small age with sorting, patterns, and then grow in their skills during each step of development. It’s been really cool to watch Big Sister this past school year as she started to learn Kindergarten math skills and then become confident with those abilities. She even said at her end of the school year Kindergarten graduation that her favorite memory of the year was “math”!
There is so much talk about the “summer slide” that happens with kids during their summer break. These ideas from the Share It Saturday link up are a great way to prevent the slide…or just have fun with math! I love that these activities promote math skills in a fun way. And, they don’t need to be done during the summer, they are perfect for year-round math fun!
We’re keeping the linky party live all month so be sure to stop back each week and link up your posts!