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Hands on Math...

Neurological Standpoints of Math Preparedness

“For children to succeed in mathematics, a number of brain functions need to work together. Children must be able to use memory to recall rules and formulas and recognize patterns; use language to understand vocabulary, instructions, and explain their thinking; and use sequential ordering to solve multi-step problems and use procedures. In addition, children must use spatial ordering to recognize symbols and deal with geometric forms. Higher-order cognition helps children to review alternative strategies while solving problems, to monitor their thinking, to assess the reasonableness of their answers, and to transfer and apply learned skills to new problems. Often, several of these brain functions need to operate simultaneously.”

(Full article at: )


Memory Games

Memory games are beneficial. Memory game cards are available in nearly any toy store. It is also easy and fun to make your own. One spinoff idea on these is to integrate with art, for example print duplicate images of famous paintings for your cards to make it more challenging. The following shows two variations of the game:


Logical Games: IQ Puzzles

Logical games and IQ puzzles are useful in training the mind without the need for specific knowledge.

For students who cannot solve the puzzles, it’s useful to follow the explanations to develop intuition and explore the logic.

For children who have a disproportionate exposure to various media - often illogical and ambiguous - providing logical alternatives and course corrections whenever possible is beneficial.


There are many books for IQ puzzles. If using a book for grownups, typically the first chapters are easy, and can be used by children as well or some light adaptation may be necessary.

Here is an example from Lloyd King AHA! Puzzles website (

Question: Here is a picture of a spotted dog. Can you take away one line to turn it into a picture of a horse?  



Logical Games: Guessing the Color

In this game two children can play and take turn at guessing. One child composes a hidden color arrangement, and the other student does the guessing based on feedback as follows.

Let’s say the hidden color arrangement to be guessed is as shown below.

The student who is guessing starts guessing a random set of colors at first, for example:

For this arrangement the other student provides the following feedback:

Where White indicates incorrect color, Gray is code for correct color but in the wrong position, and Black indicates both position and color were correct.

The students will be able to guess the combination in a small number of steps.

The game provides practicing focus and some depth of thinking. It can be made more difficult by adding a larger number of colors to guess.

You can create your game pieces by printing and cutting out the squares, coloring, and laminating them into cards. Optionally you can glue on magnets so the cards can stay on a small metal dry erase board. Alternately, you can skip making the cards all together and use crayons to color in the dots instead on a printed paper as shown here:

For children who enjoy Lego, that is also a choice for this game as pieces come in sufficient colors.

Some play sets are available - although originally intended for another purpose- it works well for this game, and can extend to use more colors easily:

This set can be found online at:


Hexaflexagon/Colour changing Hexagon


Make an Infinity Cube


Logic & Brain Teasers on Khan Academy

Math for Fun and Glory



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