Learning math from puddle play

Thirty-seven percent of extended family members are raising young children or providing childcare. Adults who have learned to look at ordinary objects and think of them as tools for fun and learning are always prepared for their time with the kids.

Playing with puddles is a typical example of free and easy science and math fun with common materials. Evelyn Massaro shares puddle activities she did with her young daughter.

For more free and easy activities see grandparentsteachtoo.org for books and videos, and wnmufm.org for pod casts.

“Learning Through the Seasons” is going live Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 8:35 a.m. on WNMUFM.

Materials needed

Puddles and ruler.

What to do

If it’s a rainy or a snow melting day children will have many choice puddles. They can dress up in old boots, tennis shoes, adult sweatshirts, and mittens and “gad about” in puddles.

After swishing a stick around, throwing rocks, or stomping. Measure a puddle. How deep are puddles in different areas? Help children measure the diameter and circumference. Explain and use these math vocabulary words.

What objects float and sink? Look around for leaves, stones, and sticks. If the material is denser therefore more molecules than the water it displaces, the object will sink. If it has fewer molecules, it will float.

Can children make a little bridge with a few pieces of wood or wood chips and stones? Is it possible to use debris to block the puddle from going down hill? Can children jump across? Stomp in the puddles and measure how far the splatters will spread.

There are no puddles? No problem. If the hose is still out, children can make puddles where the sidewalk meets the grass so they get a little bit of mud.

If it’s cold, children can measure how deep and wide a frozen puddle pattern may be. Smash a hole in a frozen puddle or make a puddle in a tray. Children can freeze the tray, let it melt, or break it up with a spoon.

A large indoor puddle can be made in a bin on the floor. Add some water toys, strainer, and colander to make it rain. Children can also play in the sink with chairs arranged like a cage to avoid falling.

Go into any messy activity with the mindset that everyone will get dirty. Children will want to stomp in puddles and everyone will get dirty. Adults, children and clothes are washable.

Just picture children in a warm bath, eating a snack, and snuggling with a book afterwards. Then everyone can take a rest, including adults. Young children who get outside to run around often take afternoon rests at a later age than more sedentary children.

Puddle books include: “Puddles” by London; “Muddle Puddle” by Munsch; “The Puddle” by McPhail and “The Piggy in the Puddle” by Pomerantz.

Editor’s note: This column is penned by retired Marquette Area Public Schools teachers Iris Katers, Jean Hetrick, and Cheryl Anderegg. Esther Macalady is from Golden, Colorado. Tim Fox currently teaches at Superior Hills Elementary. It’s supported by Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship, the School of Education, U.P. Children’s Museum, U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, and U.P. Parent Awareness of Michigan. Their book “Learning Through the Seasons” is available at area stores and www.grandparentsteachtoo.org. Their mission is to provide fun standards based activities that adults can do in the home to prepare children for school and a lifetime of learning and reduce the stress of child care.