Wash & Learn: Math in the Bath!
I’ve teamed up with Crystal from Bath Activities for Kids to bring you a set of fun and educational bath times in a series fondly called Wash & Learn! Today we are both featuring Math Baths! Hop on over to her brand new site which just launched today to see her take on learning math in the tub!!
To set up our math bath, I cut ten 6″ x 9″ foam craft sheets in half. I wrote the numbers 1-10 on ten of them using permanent marker. On the other ten half-sheets in coordinating colors, I drew dots to match the numbers on one side and on the other side, I drew tally marks to match the numbers. Before Luke climbed into the tub, I filled it up and floated all the foam numbers on top!
He has really been loving the baths and is always very excited when I tell him I am creating one for him!! He could hardly wait to hop in!
We used a bath tub for this math bath that didn’t have surrounding walls. I wanted to show you that even if you have a clawfoot tub or a tub that doesn’t have waterproof walls around it, you can fill the tub with a minimum amount of water and use the walls of the tub itself to stick the foam to!
Invitation to Play:
I didn’t give Luke any directions at all for this activity. I waited to see what he’d come up with.
Immediately he started counting dots and finding the matching number.
Foam sticks when wet, so he paired the number foam with the dot foam and stuck them to the sides of the tub.
After he had paired them all, he counted out loud in order from 1-10 while moving around the tub to point to the right number pair.
Then he decided he wanted to line them all up in order. He pulled them down in order from 1-10 and put them back up, creating a sort of number line.
It was during this process that he noticed the tally marks on the back side of the dot foams. He converted all the dots to tallies on his number line.
Luke had never seen tally marks before, so I briefly explained them. My goal wasn’t for him to learn it in this instance, but just to be exposed to it in a fun environment so that next time he sees them, he’ll have a memory to associate with them. Hopefully that will make learning them more interesting and easier!
After this, Luke pulled all the numbers off the side of the tub and stacked them altogether. He said he was building a a ship! He liked how even using all those pieces of foam together his invention still floated!
All the pieces stayed together and floated around the tub until a big storm came, complete with huge waves and knocked it apart. I love his imagination!
After awhile, Luke also found that if you hold a piece of foam under the water, it will do a sort of swirly zig-zag as it makes its way back up to the surface. Here’s a little 12 second video to show what it’s like, narrated by Luke:
I’ve found that by setting up a learning environment and then just letting him explore it, he will often try more things willingly and come up with some really interesting ideas and conclusions all on his own, than if I were to guide the activity. When appropriate, I do throw in a little guidance or suggestions here and there, but it’s just amazing how all the learning goals I want to accomplish with him will usually happen with very little effort on my part. It’s hands-on learning at it’s best, and he thinks he’s just playing!!!
Here are two ways to reuse these math bath materials for future learning! These activities would work best in a shower since there is more wall space for sticking the foam, but could be adapted for a bath.
1) Add foam craft sticks so the kids can count out the right number of sticks for each number. Depending on your child’s level, you might start with only 1-5.
2) Add foam craft sticks so the kids can practice making tally marks to go with each number.
Fun for all Ages:
While you may think this activity is only for littles, try it with your elementary kids, too. I have to admit that after our last Wash & Learn post on building letters, my husband and I quite enjoyed “building” messages to each other, too. It was fun to walk into the bathroom to see if any new notes or pictures had been left for me!
& check back next Monday for a new Wash & Learn collaboration!!
Other Themed Bath & Shower Posts on In Lieu of Preschool:
Halloween Shower Art
Sensory Spider Shower
Bath and shower activities should be closely supervised by an adult at all times. None of the products used in this post stained our tub or shower walls in any way, but please test before use to ensure you will obtain the same results.
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