Multi-Age Math Art

Girl Scouts: Sister to Every Girl Scout, Journey: A World of Girls (Brownies)

MADOE Frameworks:  Standards for Mathematical Practice 2, 6, 7

Standards for Mathematical Content: Operations and Algebraic Thinking

Number and Operations in Base 10

Number and Operations in Fractions

Expressions and Equations

I just ran across an absolutely phenomenal idea, created by Jennifer at Live.Teach.Create.

Math About Me

Math About Me would be the perfect project for any age that can do some sort of math–from adding and subtracting all the way up to calculus.  Use this project in a Cub/Boy Scout or Girl Scout meeting, use it in a classroom, or even at a camp.  I may create my own drop-in craft version for my library and see if anyone takes me up on trying it.  If I do and it goes well, I will post the results on here (censoring for safety, as one should always do with children and the internet).

What you need:

  • Colored pencils
  • 5 x 7 index cards, or 8.5 x 11 cardstock depending on the size
  • A ruler
  • Scrap paper
  • A photo (optional)

What to do:

A quick example that could be way more creatively decorated.

  1. On some scrap paper, have the kids create a list of facts about themselves which have to contain a number (so, “I am 8 years old” or “I have 3 pets”)
  2. Have the kids create math problems to substitute for the numbers in their fact list.
  3. Use the ruler to block out 4-8 squares, depending on the level of difficulty/complexity your kids can go for.
  4. Each fact is written neatly with colored pencil into its own square.  If you have a photo, be sure to glue it to the card before writing so you know how much room you have.

This project is so versatile and can go with so many different projects.  Add collage materials if you want to make each person’s project, as well as each description square more unique.  Simply cut out their descriptions and paste on top of the collages.

If you are using this in a Daisy meeting, first of all be sure to create a poster or display of math problems they can copy down instead of having to create them on their own–Kindergartners cannot often think that abstractly.  Just guess what numbers they’ll need problems for, or you could even do a problem for each number up to 10 and limit their number facts to numbers 1-10.  It won’t really matter that they all have the same math problems if they’re all 5 years old, because at this level, we’re developing really complex literacy skills.  If you are tying this project in to the Sisters to Every Girl Scout petal, simply use cardstock in violet and write “Sister to Every Girl Scout” on the backs of all of them before the meeting.  The activity for “sisterhood” can be for each girl to find out how many of her troop mates have similar facts to hers, and which ones might be different.  A short debrief about how people can be different and alike at the same time, and that “we’re all sisters who love each other for our differences and similarities!”  I know.  I’m such a Girl Scout.  I get really into this stuff.

For the It’s Your Story, Tell It!  Brownie Journey (A World of Girls), if your girls are interested in learning about other countries, this would be a great way to help them organize facts about the countries they are looking up.  Country presentations would make a nice gallery!

Questions?  Comments? Suggestions?  I encourage them!


More Book Projects

Badges: GS Journey It’s Your Story, Tell It!,

MADOE Frameworks: Language Arts & Literacy Standards 1, 2, 7, 8, 9

Mathematics Standards 2, 4

The great educating mommas over at The Educator’s Spin On It hosted a blog hop for

and the contributions to their collection for Lois Ehlert book project ideas are fantastic!  Lois Ehlert picture books are best for the 3-6 age group, but the complexity of some projects could even appeal to 7 or maybe 8 year olds, depending on how well you can explain complex art thoughts to kids.

This one, which goes with the book Eating the Alphabet, has several steps and touches on language, reading, math, and natural world literacy.  I highly recommend it for kids all the way up to 2nd Grade, particularly for the graphing concepts idea.

I especially like this one for lessons on character development–I think it’s most useful for kids up to 1st Grade, and not higher only because the book Wag a Tail is pretty low-complexity.  Besides, that’s the age they love to come up with their own stories!  Having your kids come to class with their own (non-breakable) toys, the whole class (or smaller groups, depending) could come up with character charts for each toy, and then create a story linking them all.  You could even go into photographic illustration if you and the kids are enthusiastic!

Lagging Behind

It has now been over a month since I promised you all some new material, and behold, nothing has happened.  It doesn’t mean that nothing is happening on this end, but I have not been able to devote the time I had hoped to give you in recent weeks, due in large part to a flea infestation which is now controlled in every room except my bedroom, where all my craft supplies are now hidden away in air-tight plastic bags for now.  I am really hoping to be done soon with life emergencies such as these, but for now crafting is somewhat on hold.  For this, I apologize.

I have, however, just added links to three of my Pinterest boards so that you can see some of where I get my inspirations for programs and projects.  When life is a little more under control, I should be able to act on developing my own versions of some of the things I have found on Pinterest.

I did get the chance to do some crafting and building projects with my 4-year-old nephew when I was visiting family in late August, which only need the addition of images and Frameworks checking to make into posts.  Keep an eye out for those.

Empowerment Starts with a Mission

Most kids love to be helpful.  Most kids love to see that they can make a difference.  This doesn’t really change as we grow up, but whether or not we receive empowering support as children can really impact our ability to achieve these two wonderful, yet simple, things in life.  I truly believe that every group of children in every setting ought to get the chance to feel empowered by doing a community service project.  (I also believe that every vacation ought to contain at least one such project, even if it’s just bringing a trash bag to the beach with you to collect what others have left behind.)

That being said, if you don’t have practice supporting and encouraging kids by making their crazy wild flights of fancy into something tangible, you might be overwhelmed at my proposal.

Never fear!

As my above soapbox probably indicates, I’m brimming with ideas.  But to tell you the truth, it’s the KIDS who will have the best ideas, and they will get so much more out of their project if they have chosen the steps they take.  Of course, they have less experience with this than you do, so a little guidance to start them off is useful.

For example:

The Service Club at my library started last summer and I let them pick what issue they faced and what project to do to alleviate the issue.  They chose helping the victims of a bad storm that had passed through our area, and they decided to hold a bake sale to earn money that would then be used to by food and supplies for the distribution centers.  Long way around?  Yes.  Worth it because the kids gained invaluable lessons?  Absolutely.  They learned that a bake sale is fun to put on and earns quite a bit of money in a short period of time.  They learned that they probably should do a food drive if they wanted to donate food again, because even though they earned a lot, it didn’t buy as much food as they had hoped to donate.  I wish I could have brought them someone whom it helped to tell their story, but didn’t get to.

This winter they decided to help the pandas and the polar bears.  I inwardly groaned because I could tell they were picking these animals 70% because they’re cute and fuzzy and 30% because they’re endangered and part of the ecological balance of the world.  I didn’t try to deter them because I could see their enthusiasm, and who am I to tell someone not to follow a dream??  This time, they tried a yard sale, which required a lot of work and made next to no money.  Thankfully, their spreading the word about the cause inspired a few kids to donate some allowance money to the group, and they were able to make a nice-sized donation to the organizations they chose.  The debrief on this one was EXTREMELY useful and important because they were able to learn so very much from their experience.


Everyone can probably give a billion ideas for methods of getting kids to understand the process of a project (and to not lose steam if it takes a while).  American Girl Magazine put out an interesting quiz/project starter for girls, which is a great starting point for your own project starter if you have a mixed-gender group.  My methods are lined out below, but feel free to comment yours:

Categories: give the kids the option of 5 or 6 categories of issues they might like to focus on (human rights, the environment, poverty, health, animals, etc.)  I like to put these on those white label stickers so that they can stick them onto a rating chart and you can see how their minds work about choosing issues.

Project directions: then give the kids as many options as you can think of for projects that you can stand behind (which don’t need to be specifically related to the issues so that they’re adaptable).  Let the kids know that if some of your project ideas inspire them to create their own project, you will review it with them when they’ve finished brainstorming. I also like for these to be on those label stickers.

Timeline: this one’s important–they need a visual representation of how long this will take and milestones to show that they’ve gotten somewhere in the meantime.  Kids’ attention spans (especially the 4-7 age range) are very short.  A kindergartner can sit still for about 12 minutes, for instance.  Long-term attention is almost beyond them without visual cues.

Project: projects that kids under 10 do should take no more than two days to complete (once you’ve gotten down to the action part, such as a bake sale).  Their attention spans really can’t take much more, and you want their enthusiasm really high so that the debrief helps them build on their own experiences.  If they have far-flung dreams, they can establish small projects throughout a longer timeline, which will keep their attentions contained.

Debrief: must always happen after any project or big experience.  This allows processing time and integration of ideas and emotions.  It allows kids to figure out where to take their enthusiasm next, and gives them more of a sense of where they are within the group and their impact on the wider world.  It also gives you a chance to see where some areas of social or character improvement might be needed.

Ha ha–and you thought I was out of ideas, didn’t you?  I have about 10 projects saved as drafts, and have yet to complete them fully, but fear not…they are coming!  If you liked this post and would like to do a project with kids which has a specific theme or goal in mind (mathematics, a particular badge, a word of the month), feel free to comment and I’ll work up a unit outline!

Cell Phone Charge Pocket

My kitten is starting to enjoy the many electrical appliances in my room thanks to their dangling wires which resemble tails and strings, just begging to be pounced and gnawed upon.  I found this great idea (referred by and tried it out for my cell phone.  I’d like to make one for my tablet too, but my lease has rules about hanging things on the walls, so I need to put my creativity to the test to work that one out beforeI make the thing.

cell phone and charger caddy
somebody’s still interested…

I discovered that shampoo bottles are made of SERIOUS plastic, which made for some very difficult and careful cutting.  I would recommend an exacto knife or a hotknife if you have it, rather than the big pair of scissors that I used.  I’m a little unnerved about the thickness of shampoo plastic, since most people don’t rinse them out and recycle them, they almost always end up in a landfill, and that’s a lot of petroleum we then turn around and use to make more thick plastic rather than finding sustainable ways to do otherwise.  It just goads me into getting down to business making my own shampoo (or the next time I have a plastic bottle I can use for it, going in to the co-op and getting the bulk shampoo).

I do not suggest this project for kids, as it is difficult to make the thing look very good, and as I said, is very tough to cut anyway.  If you really want kids to do it, have the bottles pre-cut (tons of work for you, my friend).  They could have a good time using puff paint on the edges and paint/decals on the outside.  Mod podge with tissue paper or fabric.  Anything, really.  I must say, this project was strictly utilitarian for me and did not inspire much creativity.  At least the bottle I used looks like pretty green glass!

Click on an image below for a closer shot.

First, mark out what shape the top of your cut will look like.

Cut along your sharpie mark. This part was really hard, and I had to be very careful not to stab myself with the scissors.

You need to cut a hole in the back of your bottle for the plug adaptor to go through. This turned out to be the wrong style of hole for mine.

I glued the bottleneck to the hole to help reinforce what was going on with the adaptor.

My charger has a USB connection to the A/C adaptor, so this turns out to work pretty well. Everything just fits!

Books and Recyclables

This is something I can completely get behind (and plan to try with my kindergarten readers this year) because it combines reading aloud, learning about compassion and friendship, and using recyclables to make a fun craft that can be used in other areas of the curriculum.  I will post pictures of my own when I do it with the kids, but I’m so excited about it, I wanted to put it up here for others to see.

The book is Willow’s Whispers by Lana Button, and it’s about a girl who is so shy she only barely whispers.  I’ll give the synopsis that was put on The Crafty Crow, as I don’t think I could do it nearly as much justice:

In Willow’s Whispers, our young Willow is a shyer than
shy kind of girl whose voice can barely dance out of her
mouth. Willow speaks in the softest of whispers and she
really wants to be a part of the class but her shyness
keeps her almost invisible. Each night at bed time her
father assures her there is a bigger voice inside her and
that when she is ready it will come about. To help gain
confidence, Willow conjures up a magic microphone to
amplify her whispers. Soon, her classmates begin to
notice and Willow begins to find her place until one day
her magic microphone becomes crushed. What will
happen to Willow now?

As a part of The Crafty Crow’s A Book and a Craft series, Jessica from Scrumdilly-do! created an oh-so-simple craft to go along with the book: each child can make their own “magic microphone”!  Start collecting those paper towel tubes and construction paper scraps–or pull out your ripped tissue paper from old birthday gift bags and whip up a batch of mod-podge.  Your kids will love it!


Corresponds to MA DOE Frameworks: Visual Arts Standards 1 & 3

Otherwise known as decoupage, this is an artistic technique that can be used in combination with many other techniques and media.  It’s especially fun to use with letterboxing and printmaking, as you can get a great layered effect.

The easiest way to use this with kids is to use tissue paper, because it takes to the glue mix really easily and looks amazing no matter how well you layer it.  I personally prefer not to buy new anything that I can save back from other things, so I always keep the tissue paper from birthday and holiday gift bags I receive.  I reuse it in other gift bags, or (especially if it’s ripped), I use it for projects like this one!


Rip up your tissue paper into squares or strips–they don’t have to be perfect in the slightest.

Mix the mod-podge:

1 part glue (school glue is fine, though the clear stuff will give less of a matte finish), to 1 part water

So, it’s a 50/50 mixture glue to water.  Add glitter, sequins, or confetti for fun effects, or just use it straight.

How to use it:

Say you’re using a box.

  • Take a paintbrush and get a little mod-podge action going on the bristles.
  • Spread a thin layer of the stuff onto the box–it really doesn’t have to be much, especially if you’re using tissue paper.
  • Lay a piece of tissue paper down where it’s wet and then take a little more mod-podge onto your brush.  Paste the tissue paper down by painting over it with the gooey brush.
  • Layer as much as you want, understanding that too many layers of tissue paper will eventually make it difficult to paste everything down–sometimes tissue paper annoyingly rips when you don’t want it to.
  • If you only want to layer one side of your box, leave some of the pieces sticking off the sides and when everything’s dry, just use a pair of sharp scissors to cut the “flyaways” flush with the corner.

This is such a great one for exploring creativity, because you can mod-podge anything.  If you want to stick things like beads and shells to a surface, you’ll need thicker/stronger glue than school glue, and then you get into toxicity issues if you’ve got younger kids to work with.



I found out that you can buy (pshaw) outdoor mod podge.  I’m going to try it out with acrylic polymer medium and see if it does the same thing (the clear stuff that you add pigment to in order to make acrylic paints.  Yes, I’m that big an art nerd).  I’d rather use the polymer medium because it is more versatile than just forking up cash for something that I can make myself for cheaper.


Please remember KISS–Keep It Simple, Silly.  The fewer options you have, the more resourceful you become.  It’s good for kids to sink their teeth into this sort of project.