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Reinforcing Math Concepts with Picture Pie


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Written by Pam Odd of Keeping Life Creative.

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?

Reinforcing Math Concepts with Picture Pie

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.

Picture Pie Punched Circles

Supplies for hands-on math activities

To turn this activity into a math learning experience for all ages, we gathered:

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!)

Picture Pie Circle Punches

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

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

math activities for 5 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.

creating repeating patterns

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

hands-on fraction activities

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?

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This article was written by a Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers guest author. See the author's full bio in the body of the post.

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One Comment

  1. I adore Ed Emberley books! I used the drawing books in my fourth and fifth grade classrooms, and my students enjoyed using them when they had finished other assignments. I’m not familiar with this particular Ed Emberley book. I will have to purchase it to use with my grandsons. I love it when I can incorporate art with other subjects, such as math. Thanks for sharing!

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