When you think back to your childhood, what memorable experiences come to mind? Which ones do you/did you most look forward to re-creating with your own kids?
Ed Emberly’s Picture Pie is one of those experiences I’ve been anxiously looking forward to introducing. At age 8 or 9, I discovered the book in the arts and crafts section of the library and (as dramatic as it sounds) that book, plus some scraps of construction paper changed the way I thought about shapes. Experimenting with circles to create my own designs “shaped” the beginnings of an artist in me and kept me occupied for days. I even remember designing a set of homemade Picture Pie-inspired “stationary” for my grandma’s Christmas gift.
Ed Emberly’s old-school idea book is so fun for an afternoon of craft time with the kiddos, or even a sneaky-mommy math lesson. The sample art ideas are perfect for manipulating circles, creating patterns, and visualizing fractions.
Supplies for hands-on math activities
To turn this activity into a math learning experience for all ages, we gathered:
- Picture Pie book by Ed Emberly
- Circle punch(es)
- Card stock or other paper
- Colored paper scraps
- Glue stick
- Black marker
Cutting circles with punches is of course optional, but will save a lot of time! I prepped for this activity by pre-punching a variety of circles from different colored card stock scraps. And though we only used a handful during our supplemental “math” lesson, my kids have enjoyed Picture Pie long past the initial activity, so it’s nice to have a stash of already punched circles available. Turn on a Netflix re-run, scoop a bowl of ice cream, and get the punches out after the kiddos are in bed. (Yes, this is a peek of my life and what I do in my “spare” time!)
Since Picture Pie walks kids through the steps of creating designs with circles, exactly how you proceed with your math activity will depend on the age/level of your kids. But I’ll show you what I did with my 3, 5, 7, and 9-year olds.
Math activities for a three-year-old
She loves “school” and wants to be involved in everything the big kids are doing, so I have to get creative and adapt activities to include her. We practiced preschool concepts by reviewing shapes and colors, as well as using her fine-motor skills to glue. Give this girl a glue stick, and she’s easily occupied for 10 minutes (or more) while I work with the older kids.
Math activities for a five-year-old
She loves all things animals and was immediately drawn to the dog and cat samples in the book. And since she insisted they were her favorite and was not able to complete the semi-complicated designs on her own, I went ahead and helped with the cutting and arranging–letting her just glue and embellish the little pet shop.
This circle-gluing activity is also a fun way for this age to practice creating repeating patterns. Just make sure you have various colors and/or sizes available for pattern-making.
Math activities for seven- and nine-year-olds
We reviewed what each fractioned “pie” slice looked like, and discussed and manipulated the pieces to kinesthetically review fractions. Then I turned them over to create. I love the intricate kaleidoscope-like designs featured in the book.
What creative, hands-on activities have you tried to reinforce math concepts?