Number Rock Puzzles with The Barefoot Babies

Number Rock Puzzles with The Barefoot Babies

Check out this wonderful math-craft tutorial for little learners using our Natural Earth Paint Kit, shared with us by The Barefoot Babies on Instagram!

"I'll bet that growing up, you loved doing puzzles but hated doing math homework. But what if I told you that you could help your kids learn math simply by playing with puzzles?

E loves doing puzzles! So I thought it would be cool to make him a set of animal puzzles using rocks. But of course, I had to build in a hidden math component (I can't help it - my dad, husband and maid of honor are all math teachers!).

Research shows that infants as young as 6 months can distinguish between larger and smaller numerical quantities; and by 3 years old, children begin to compare sets of numbers. However, most preschool and kindergarteners still struggle to accurately assess numerical relationships (i.e. the number of objects) when the size or distribution of objects is misleading. One way to improve numerical understanding is to help children slowly count sets of objects and explain why the sets are equal or unequal (to read more about this research, see the link in the comments below).

The animal puzzles I made for E help promote numerical awareness by teaching:

1. Counting

2. Number recognition (associating "4" to the grouping of four rocks)

3.  Numerical relationships (the turtle's rocks are smaller than the butterfly's, but the turtle is actually made of more rocks!)

My goal for E right now is just to have fun (he's only 2!) And If he miscounts that's okay! I'm simply laying a foundation for future learning and a love of numbers.

Will you try making some "rock animal math puzzles" with your kids?"

To replicate The Barefoot Babies' Number Rock Puzzles:

1. Collect small rocks for the base of your number puzzles.

You can collect these from your backyard or a local park, or, in a pinch, you can purchase small decorative rocks from your local crafting store. 

2. Separate the rocks into number groups. 

The Barefoot Babies created a ladybug, a snail, a caterpillar, a bee, and a butterfly, but you can create any creatures you like! If your little one is old enough, try brainstorming bugs and animals with them to create a custom set of puzzles. Once you've decided on what creatures to create, let them separate the rocks into piles for each creature with the correct number of rocks. 

3.  Paint a base color on each of the rocks. 

Now for the messy part! Bring out your Natural Earth Paints and paint brushes and paint the base coat of paint onto each of the rocks. Feel free to let your little one get creative- Natural Earth Paints are safe for all ages, so you can let them mix the paints on their own!

4. Add details.

After allowing the first coat of paint to dry, paint on the details of your bug and animal friends. Then, let the final details dry. Don't forget the numbers!

5. Start counting & learning!

Interested in more crafts featuring Natural Earth Paint products? Visit our Nature Crafts DIY page!
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