11 Activities to Build Math Skills Using Art, Games, and Books

Homeschoolers have a wonderful opportunity to explore the world in a way that sitting at a desk can never do. A hands-on approach to mathematics helps a child not only learn the concept but to really understand it.

In our home, we have just started a new math skill: ordering. So to prepare for these lessons on ordering, I planned a few art projects, some games, and ordered some really good books.

Listed below, you will find the books, projects, and games that I used.

Full list of books:

I always like using stories to teach math concepts. There is something that triggers comprehension when you can experience it in a book. Maybe books word things better than I can. Maybe it is the pictures. Or maybe it is because stories always make an impact on children. Most likely, it is actually the connection children make with the characters.

The Best Bug Parade by Stuart J. Murphy

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen

How Big Is a Foot? by Rolf Myller

One Was Johnny by Maurice Sendak

Mighty Maddie by Stuart J. Murphy

Full list of games:

Game #1:

You will need toys of various sizes. We used stuffed animals. Children put them in order from tallest to shortest, and then shortest to tallest. Key words: short, shorter, shortest, tall, taller, tallest.

Game #2:

You will need building blocks (plastic connecting blocks or wooden stacking blocks will do). Build a series of towers where each tower is taller or shorter than the next one. Children like to build stairs, so this would work too. Key words: short, shorter, shortest, tall, taller, tallest.

Game #3:

You will need stairs to climb. With each step up, talk about how much higher you are, and at the top, you are the highest. With each step down, talk about how much lower you are, and at the bottom, you are the lowest. Key words: high, higher, highest, low, lower, lowest.

Game #4:

You will need various items from your pantry. I used a jar of peanut butter, a can of peanuts, a container of hot chocolate mix, an empty mug, and a coffee tin. I picked items that were both heavy and light and where the size had no bearing on the weight. I had the children order them by weight (estimating the weight by picking it up). Key words: heavy, heavier, heaviest, light, lighter, lightest.

Game #5:

You will need 6 Mason jars (or other glass jars that are all the same size), water, and a metal spoon. Set up tone bottles with various amounts of water and then listen to the pitch of each jar by tapping it with a metal spoon. Make note that the lower the pitch the higher the water level. Key words: high, higher, highest, low, lower, lowest.

Game #6:

Play with stacking cups, stacking rings, and Russian nesting dolls.

Full list of art projects:

Art Project #1:

You will need glue, string, and construction paper. I cut the string by inches (i.e. 1 inch, 2 inches, 3 inches, etc.) until I had 8 strings for each child. The children put them in order by length and then used a ruler to measure them. Then they wrote the number of inches by each string and then glued the string onto the paper. Key words: short, shorter, shortest, long, longer, longest.

Art Project #2:

You will need markers, construction paper, and varying sizes of round lids. Centering a lid on the middle of the page, trace it with a marker. Continue to do this for all lids so that the smallest circle is in the center of the largest circle. The child should be able to see the growing sizes of circles. Key words: small, smaller, smallest, big, bigger, biggest, large, larger, largest.

Art Project #3:

You will need varying sizes of shapes drawn on a paper, scissors, glue, and construction paper. Cut out the shapes and glue them in order by size on the construction paper. Key words: small, smaller, smallest, big, bigger, biggest, large, larger, largest.

Art Project #4:

You will need construction paper, scissors, glue, and cutouts of varying shapes. I recommend that the cutouts have a different number available for each shape (i.e. 1 circle, 2 squares, 3 hearts, etc.) Draw a butterfly on a piece of construction paper. Have the children cut out the butterfly and then glue shapes on their wings. When finished, compare the number of shapes on each butterfly. Key words: more, most, less, least.

Art Project #5:

You will need multiple toys of multiple types (i.e. 5 balls, 3 cars, 6 dolls, and 7 stuffed animals). Make a graph where you have a row for each type of toy and fill in a box for each number of that toy. Compare the lines, determining which row has the most and which row has the least. Key words: more, most, less, least.