Friday, November 14, 2014

Buttons Come and Buttons Go (A Pete the Cat Game)

We were excited when we discovered that this month's Virtual Book Club for Kids author was Eric Litwin as it meant focusing on his Pete the Cat books. We discovered Pete the Cat a few years ago and love Litwin's easygoing, rhythmic style. (Scroll down to the bottom of the post for links to a few of our favorites.) The boys love his stories and I love the messages they convey about not sweating the small stuff.

Buttons Come and Buttons Go Math Game

For this month's activity we decided to focus on the book Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons. Not only does it convey a great message about not getting upset over the loss of some buttons and finding positives in the outcome, it also builds early math skills right into the storyline. We extended the book into our "Buttons Come and Buttons Go" math game.

Several months ago the Preschool Book Club also featured this book, and I remember seeing some great math games extending from the book. One of the games was this Subtraction Game from Buggy and Buddy whose post looked like this could be such a fun, hands on math experience. Although we never got a chance to play any of the games we'd seen, as we reread we similarly felt inspired to create our own math game, 

I wanted to play off the idea that buttons could be earned or taken, so we created a game which involved both addition and subtraction. We're often encouraging Big Brother not to stress the smaller things throughout his day, so adding in an element of taking and losing helps to practice that in a game setting. 

Our materials included solid colored scrapbook paper, three dice, colorful buttons, and white label stickers. 

I cut the scrapbook paper into 6 different shirts (red, orange, green, yellow, blue, and purple) and added ten black dots to the front of each shirt. To create the shirt I created one shirt tracer from scrap paper which I drew onto all the sheets of paper and then cut out.

I also modified two of the dice using the white labels. One dice had addition and subtraction symbols. The other dice had one of each of the six colors (red, blue, yellow, green, purple, and orange) on each side. We also collected 10 buttons of each color.

To play the game: 

1) Each player takes one shirt. 

2) The first player rolls the white symbol die. If the symbol is a subtraction sign (and they have no buttons yet) than their turn is over. If the symbol is an addition sign than the player rolls the number die and takes that many buttons for their shirt. 

3) Players continue taking turns rolling the dice. If players roll the addition symbol than they continue to roll the number die and place that number of buttons onto their shirt. But, if they roll a subtraction symbol and they have buttons, than they roll both the color die and the number die. The number tells them how many buttons to take away (or subtract) and the color die tells them which player they give their buttons to. In the case no one is using that shirt color than the buttons go back into the "bank."

4) The first player to reach ten buttons wins the game. (Players can choose to try and collect their own color of buttons, or use other color buttons if they prefer.)

Although the rules were somewhat complicated, it was meant to combine some elements of several games we've played before (including Hi Ho Cherry-O and Duck Duck Bruce) and Big Brother quickly picked it up. The game, as I had hoped, gave us opportunities to practice using several math words such as subtract, add, and equals, plus as well as creating math sentences like 5-3=2. 

And, as I had also hoped there were a few moments when Big Brother had to practice not becoming frustrated by either losing, or giving away, buttons. 

We've already played it a few more times this week and we'll definitely be adding this game to our family collection for more play opportunities in the future. 

Have you seen any of the other great ideas shared over at the Virtual Book Club for Kids facebook page? Each month you can find a new collection of shares based on a specific author. 


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