Taylor Green

50 Simple household items that help your child become a math whiz

Blog Post created by Taylor Green on Nov 21, 2016

Want to raise a child who is great at math and actually loves it? One of the easiest ways to do that is to fill your house with hands-on materials to encourage your kids to play with numbers, puzzles, shapes and math concepts.

You can pick up such items at dollar stores, thrift stores, garage sales and even for free outside.

Here are 50 things to stock your house with in order to help your kids love math.

  1. Adding machines
  2. Scales (postage, kitchen, digital, bathroom, balance...)
  3. Protractors
  4. Compasses
  5. Clocks (digital and analog)
  6. Stopwatches
  7. Geoboards
  8. Calculators (simple and sophisticated)
  9. Rulers and yardsticks
  10. Magnet numbers
  11. Measuring tapes (toolbox type and cloth)
  12. Thermometers and barometers
  13. Rain gauges
  14. Dice (standard and sets with various numbers of sides)
  15. Abacuses
  16. Cuisenaire rods (we like wood best)
  17. Legos
  18. Puzzles
  19. Playing cards
  20. Rubik's Cubes
  21. Tangrams and pattern blocks
  22. Dominoes
  23. Lots of "living math" books (picture books that incorporate math concepts in fun ways)
  24. Blocks
  25. Sudoku books
  26. Kakuro books (like Sukoku but more math-based and trickier)
  27. Logic puzzles
  28. Calendars (all kinds, including pocket)
  29. Measuring cups and spoons
  30. Building plans, tools and supplies
  31. Base ten blocks
  32. Poker chips
  33. Old checkbooks (write void across the checks)
  34. Graph paper
  35. Old textbooks (all levels, even college, all kinds of math, and let kids use them in any way -- writing on them, altering them, anything)
  36. Toy (working) cash registers
  37. Fun math games like Shut the Box and Roll 'n Multiply
  38. Building materials like toothpicks, mini marshmallows, modeling clay, straws and other items that kids can use to make 3D shapes
  39. Chalkboards and whiteboards
  40. Play money
  41. Ledgers
  42. Receipt pads
  43. Coins
  44. Coupons
  45. Cookbooks
  46. Math posters, placemats and conversion charts
  47. Sewing patterns and materials
  48. Stock market pages
  49. Lots of mechanical pencils, pens, assorted sizes of notebooks
  50. Lots of natural materials like acorns and shells to use as manipulatives

Leave the items where kids can use them often, and encourage them to use them in new ways. Cuisenaire rods can be used for building, making patterns or even writing a message in code, for instance. Challenge the kids to use graph paper to make a picture where every color is a multiple of a different number (green uses squares that are multiples of 3, orange sections are multiples of 5... how would you handle it for a number that has more than one factor?) and so on.

Activities don't have to look like math lessons to reinforce math concepts. For instance, kids can use compasses to make lots of overlapping circles and then paint them with watercolors and fill in patterns. Point out that a circle is 360 degrees and show them how to use a protractor to measure angles in their circles, or just let them play with the compasses and protractors and discover it all on their own.

If kids play at running a restaurant, playing the stock market or tallying pretend sales, they'll still be using numbers and getting more and more comfortable with them. Adding machines are great fun for all ages (the sounds make them especially satisfying!). Games like Roll 'n Multiply help kids accidentally learn their multiplication tables. Even Blackjack helps kids with math.

Using real-world tools like planning gardens, building projects, doubling recipes and shopping will all help with math skills too.

You'll note that flash cards are nowhere on the list! If your children truly enjoy using flash cards, then by all means stock them in your house. As a general rule, there are lots of ways that are far more fun to help kids learn their math facts, though.

Give the control over to your kids and let them just play with math materials and see how much they'll learn to love it.

Have fun!

P.S.My Mom did it for me and now I kind of in love with Math and do my college homework on geometry, algebra and trigonometry way more faster than my hostel roommates and guess why I'm that good at it?