On this blog, as well as giving tips about parenting young children, I want to highlight some outstanding products that can help with that. Tiny Polka Dot is a product that has impressed me right from the start, and I simply had to include it.
For the quick review, I will say that this Tiny Polka Dot card set is an excellent product to make math fun and engaging for your child. The cards are colourful and the games you can play are varied. It also brings a creative element to math,as your child will start making up their own games to play with the cards in time. This card set also comes with excellent instructions for parents not confident in math! At around $15, they are a great investment for any family!
For the more detailed review, I hope you will stick around to get down to brass tacks!!
As an Early Childhood teacher, I have often been asked things like:
“How to teach a child math?”
“How to make Math fun?”
They are popular questions, for obvious reasons.Teaching Preschool math is not exactly something that is common knowledge. Hopefully, this review will highlight a product that could help with this (and help your kids with math!). That is the whole aim of this Tiny Polka Dot review!!
Throughout the review, click on any of the product images to go and view it on Amazon.
How to teach a child Math?
Before getting into the meat and potatoes of this particular product, I wanted to address the big picture here. What is the best way to teach Mathematics to a young child? How to uncloak the mystery of preschool math? How to make math fun?
It is usually a running joke from most people that they “hate Math” or they aren’t good at it etc. etc. This is something we have all heard many times, right?
Why do you think this is? I would argue that Math is often taught in a dry and matter of fact way. This was certainly the case many years ago, but I do hold out hope that it is improving these days.
Therefore, most people don’t feel inspired or engaged by Mathematics.
I had a Math professor at University that was the first person that really got me excited about Math. He would set it up as a problem for me to solve, and encourage us to “play” with Math. To find new ways or shortcuts that worked for us. This was such a contrast to how I had been taught whilst in school. In a very strict way, with a prescribed right and wrong way to the answer!
In the same way, if you sat a child down with a set of flashcards and just asked them to add up or count for no particular reason, they probably wouldn’t last long. In this past article, I talked about the importance of giving activities meaning and value.
Turning this learning into a fun and engaging experience will, for many children, get their attention and make learning Math something fun.
This is where Tiny Polka Dot comes in…..
What is Tiny Polka Dot?
As this is a Tiny Polka Dot review, we best get on to talking about the product itself!! It started as a Kickstarter campaign and appears to have gone from strength to strength ever since.
The company behind Tiny Polka Dot are Math for love (that tells you all you need to know about what kind of products they release!).
On this Kickstarter campaign, they described themselves as:
“Math For Love has been delivering high-quality, paradigm-shifting math education in the Seattle area since 2010. Run by co-founders Katherine Cook and Dan Finkel, Math For Love aims to revolutionize how mathematics is taught and learned and loved in Seattle and beyond.”
As an Early Childhood teacher myself, I have seen many strategies to improve the way mathematics is taught in the younger age groups. However, it is really exciting to see a company wanting to use similar strategies for the benefit of parents. If more of these types of products existed, maybe parents wouldn’t ask me as much “How to teach a child Math?”
I have talked a lot about the background to the product, now lets talk about literally WHAT the product is!
To put it in its most basic form, Tiny Polka Dot is a set of cards that are designed to be used to play multiple games with a young child to learn Math in a fun way. That was something of a mouthful, but you get the idea!
The amazing thing, is that this rather compact product has the ability of playing up to 16 different card games related to mathematics! When you actually get the cards in your hands, you will quickly find that you start coming up with other games of your own. So, the benefit of this product far out ways its size or price. You will find that when your child gets familiar with the cards, they can also be encouraged to come up with variations on the games.
For me, it’s a really creative and open ended way to teach young children basic Math skill.
Some examples of the games you could play with the Tiny Polka Dot Cards are as follows:
- Match the number game. Your child simply has to choose two cards that match, one depicts the number and the other has the equivalent number of objects. You could play this game in a simple way, with the cards spread out and face up. Or you could put them face down, to make it more like a memory game as well. Your child will have to memorise the card locations in order to match them.
- Simple top trumps style game. I played a lot of top trumps style games as a child, where you have to beat your opponents card. You can play a simple version of that with this card set. Each player has a deck of cards, and they turn over the top card and place simultaneously in the play area. The child will the highest number is the winner, and collects both cards. The overall winner is the person to end up with the most cards when you choose to stop playing.
- Adding up games. These cards are great for games that involve adding up. For example, you could spread all the cards out on the floor. Shout out a number and the players need to find two cards that add up to that number. The winner is the person that finds the two correct cards the fastest.
- Colour based games. The Tiny Polka Dot cards come in different sets of coloured cards. These are great for making up all kinds of card playing games. A great example would be to make number sequences with specific colour cards. You could deal out an equal amount of cards to each player, with some spare cards left over. You could put the spare cards in the middle of the playing area. Each player needs to make number sequences with their cards. It could be 2-3-4 or 5-6-7. It’s up to you whether you make a rule that it needs to be at least a 2 or 3 card run. Each sequence made can be layed out in front of the player. When they have no more cards, they are the winner. If they have a turn, and cant make a sequence. They need to take one more card from the stack of extra cards in the middle of the playing area.
These are just some simple examples of games you could play. There are many more variations you could play with this card set. The Tiny Polka Dot cards will come with instructions for a variety of different games. You can also look on their website for even more ideas.
You could also invest in other cheap and simple math props to further the appeal of these cards. For example, by adding dice you are slightly changing up the games for a child. You could ask them to roll two dice, add up the total and find a matching card.
Who is Tiny Polka Dot designed for?
First of all, it is great for busy parents who want to support their child’s Math skill. Specifically number work, counting, addition and subtraction. Maybe your child has been struggling in school, or maybe you just want to give them a solid grounding to backup what they will learn in school. However you play it, your child will benefit greatly.
To talk about specifics, you can officially use this card set for any children between the ages of 3-8 years old.
The beauty of this product is it can be used to play a wide variety of games, from simple ones for toddlers, to more complex games for primary/elementary school students.
If you child enjoys using these Tiny Polka Dot cards, they really could be a great tool for your child over many years, teaching Math in a fun and creative way.
How is Tiny Polka Dot best used?
I believe that a young child learns best from short, sharp inputs on a daily basis. It enables gradual learning, without any risk of the child getting bored.
Therefore, the ability to be able to pull this card pack out at a moments notice and start playing is something that no parent should underestimate. Maybe you could have a routine where you play these games on a regular basis, or maybe you just pull Tiny Polka Dot out whenever you have a spare 10 minutes or so. Your child will be having fun, and improving their Mathematics skill as a nice little bonus!
Let your child make up their own games with the cards and let their creativity flow. Don’t be over bearing or discouraging about wrong answers in the games you play. Rather than saying “that’s wrong”, you could say “let’s check the answer together” and go over a practical way for your child to check their answers. This will keep the encouragement (and likelihood your child will want to keep using these cards) flowing!
In my eyes, its a real tool for parents to bring Preschool Math into the home. A real asset to help your kids with math (in my opinion anyway!).
What if I am not good at teaching my child?
Preschool Math seems to scare a lot of parents. But after this Tiny Polka Dot review, hopefully some light will be shed.
First of all, I am sure that all of us enjoy a good card game. But, if you do feel a bit overwhelmed, please don’t worry. I have been really impressed with the support offered by Math for Love.
All the games are very clearly explained within the Tiny Polka Dot product. If this still isn’t enough, you can go to the Tiny Polka Dot website and look at a fully fledged parents guide. So, like I said, nothing to worry about.
In fact, this product is great for parents that are not confident in Math. It gives you a clear framework to work with to teach your child Math.
So, to some this all up….let’s go over some key points here.
Tiny Polka Dot Review – Key Features of the product.
- Wide variety of activities in one compact box
- Flexible and open nature
- Can be used at very short notice, when the opportunity arises
- Turns Number work into a fun activity for young children
- Clear instructions & Support for parents
So….go on….help your kids with math! Preschool math has never been so simple!
My Tiny Polka Dot review is coming to an end (and all my gushing makes the end result quite obvious!!).
I suppose, the ultimate vote of confidence for a product such as this, would be whether I would choose to use it in my classroom? Would this be a part of most teacher’s Preschool Math curriculum? Well, that answer is simple…….. Actually, almost as soon as I set eyes on this product, it struck me as being the perfect tool for me to use when teaching number work in my class. And, this initial hunch has been proven correct.
For me, this product takes a perfect teaching tool and brings it into the home. If you have a young child, the Tiny Polka Dot product comes with a hot recommendation from me!
So the next time you think to ask a teacher “How to teach a child math?”. Take a moment and remember my Tiny Polka Dot review!
I also wrote another simple article on Best Case Parenting, all about using a regular pack of cards to play fun Math games with your kids. You can read this article HERE.
Math should be a fun and exciting experience for kids in this modern world. These are just some of the ways we can achieve this!
What do other people think?
After completing my review, I decided to go and see what other people thought. It seems that most people tend to agree with my glowing assessment!
I scanned the Amazon reviews, seeing a sea of mostly 5 star reviews. Math for love are on to a winner here! From the amount of information online, though, I still feel that this little gem is still flying somewhat under the radar of many parents.
So, lets spread the word! Tiny Polka Dot is the way to go 🙂 This IS a major way to make math fun for young children!!
Do you help your kids with Math? If you have already experienced Tiny Polka Dot, I would love to hear about your experiences below.
If you have bought this product, but are at a loss on how to use it properly with your young child, also leave a comment below and I can try to give you some further advice!