Finding Time to Play

By: Beth Van Derslice

As a working parent with two young children, I feel the struggle to get things done and spend quality time with my family.  I want my kids to love the process of learning by feeling empowered to explore and to imagine possibilities during their playtime.  I want my kids to relate to numbers as much as they relate to words.  I want my kids to feel excited and confident, not stressed or bored, about exploring new concepts.  Unfortunately, it feels like I need about 4 more hours in each day to achieve these things.  Or, so I once thought.

It turns out that there are lots of ways to engage in fun, simple, playful activities that focus on numbers and problem-solving and only take 10 minutes or less.  Here are a couple of ideas, and how I squeezed them into a busy weekday:


The Game: What’s in the cup?

When We Played: (7:45 – 7:50AM) Before work while eating breakfast

How:  You’ll need 5 or more items depending on your child (we’ve used berries and marshmallows) and a coffee cup.  Show the child the 5 items. Put some in the cup. Ask child how many are in the cup vs. not in the cup. Your child may need to look at and count the objects or may be able to mentally subtract, either way you’ve introduced math and logic into your child’s world and it only took 5 minutes!

The Game: Number Wall

When We Played: (6:30 – 6:40PM) While dinner was cooking on the stove

How:  Write numbers 1-10 (or more) on small individual pieces of paper (post-its work well). Have your child put them on the wall. This game can incorporate running around the table before sticking each number or jumping to the wall – there is lots of room for creativity. Once the numbers are stuck, ask child to identify each number.   


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Happy Playing!