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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Making Math Fun ~ The Parking Lot Game

Parking Lot Game
Age range: 3 years--2nd grade
Learning objectives: shape recognition, number sense, reading numerals, basic math facts, sight word recognition, alphabet recognition
Prep time: 10-15 min.
Activity time: Totally flexible! Play for 5 minutes or an hour...it's up to you!
Supplies needed: computer paper or poster board, tape, sticky notes (optional), marker, ruler, cars or ponies (the parking spots could be "stalls")

Making the Game Board
You could make your parking lot on a sheet of poster board (which we didn't have at the time) or tape four sheets of computer paper together down the seams and flip the papers over to draw your parking spaces.

On a hard surface, like a table, use a ruler and a marker to mark off parking spaces every couple inches (I didn't really measure this part--I'm guessing about 2.5 inches is what I used per space). I also wrote the words "Parking Lot" in the middle. Cut your sticky notes in half if they are bigger ones (so that each piece has a sticky place on it) and place one on each square. This way the skill you want to work on can be replaced with a new skill and you can use the same board each time. 

Some ideas of what to write on the squares: 
pictures (or clip art) of shapes (2D--square, circle, triangle, etc. 3D-sphere, cone, cube)
numerals (I did a variety between 1-100, but you could do larger ones like 425,000 if you want!)
numbers in written form (twelve, thirty-five, six)
equations (think "3+5" or "10-4")
sight words
states or capitals
Let your imagination run wild!

How to Play the Game
Call out the answers or words that go along with the sticky notes on your board and have your child race his/her car (my son needed 3 cars! Ha ha!) to the appropriate parking space. For example, if you were working on numerals you would say, "Mater...go to number 65!" or "Lightning McQueen....park on number 99!" or "Orange car...race over to 42!" The child would have to scan the board and find the right spot to park their car. Or have ponies ride into their stalls! To make this game easier, do not fill each spot with a sticky note OR tell your child all of the answers will be on the top row (bottom row, sides, etc.). 

My son decided this game would be more fun if we switched roles and I let him tell ME where to park the cars. This is such a great idea, because it lets the child have the opportunity to practice reading the parking spots instead of just looking for them. It also gives him/her a power trip, telling you what to do! (Sometimes I would mess up on purpose and let him tell me I was wrong because it showed that he knew the correct answer!) This is an excellent game for dads to play with the kiddos, too.

How to Store the Game
A game board made of paperfits perfectly into a file folder, when folded into fourths. You could also roll it and store in a mailing tube or wrapping paper tube. A poster board game could be stored under the couch, in a closet, behind a hutch or between the fridge and a wall/cabinet.

I hope your kiddos enjoy this game as much as my son does! I'd love to hear your feedback or other ideas you have for using this game board.

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