Published: 11 Apr 2017

**Playing ball with friends is more than just a good time.**

Playtime isn’t just about having fun. It’s also the perfect way to help exercise your child’s fine and gross motor skills.

Different games aid your child in learning to use both large and small muscles in their bodies. From playing tag in the backyard to putting together a puzzle, even simple types of play make major differences in your child’s life.

The more your child plays, the better their motor skills become as they grow. Plus, you get the joy of playing along with them.

**Motor Skills Are About More Than Movement**

It’s easy to think of motor skills as just children learning to move around and interact with the objects around them. However, it’s more than that. Mastering motor skills provides benefits, such as:

- Being comfortable exploring the world around them
- Learning to enjoy being physically active
- Better confidence and self-esteem
- Improved social skills
- Better cognitive skills
- Healthy way of dealing with emotions and pent-up energy

As adults, throwing a ball, stacking blocks or writing your name might not seem like a major accomplishment, but when you were a child, those were the stepping stones that helped you grow and develop physically and mentally.

**Fine Versus Gross Motor Skills**

Both types are equally important, but you should make sure your child gets playtime that includes both. Fine motor skills focus on doing things with your hands. For instance, some early games to teach fine motor skills might involve playing with blocks, putting together pieces of a puzzle, clapping their hands or coloring.

Gross motor skills involve the larger muscles in the body. Physical activities, such as running and crawling, help build these skills. Babies start out with raising their heads and eventually crawling. As children get older, they play ball, ride bikes and play jump rope.

**Play Is The Best Exercise**

Make time for your child to play games that involve their hands, such as cards, puzzles, match games and blocks. Get your child active with bowling, tossing balls back and forth and having a fun dance-off as they get older. It’s never too early or too late to play with your child and boost their fine and gross motor skills.

Published: 02 Apr 2017

Do you know the difference between fine and gross motor skills? It’s the size of the movement. Fine motor skills involve the careful control of small muscles in the hands, feet, fingers, and toes. Gross motor skills involve control of the arms, legs, head, and trunk.

Play is crucial to the development of children’s gross and fine motor skills. Through play, children perfect the dexterity and finesse of fine motor skills as well as nurture the muscle control that gross motor skills demand. Parents can support their children’s motor development by encouraging them to move their bodies through physical play, like in a game of catch, or creative play, like in arts and crafts.

Your children will develop their fine motor skills in games like Dreaming Dragon and Archery Dice. Our new game Do It Again! and our favorite Kahootz both use gross motor skills as part of game play.

Do you want to learn more about the types of play that help children develop fine and gross motor skills? Read the full article.

Published: 25 Mar 2017

Mathematicians contributions to today’s learning withstand the test of time. From negative integers to prime numbers, we have all experienced the findings of a great mathematician or two. So just for fun… with the release of our new math game, Math Medalist, and our annual celebration of March Mathness, here are profiles on 4 of the greatest mathematicians of all time.

**Fibonacci**: Have you heard of the Fibonacci sequence? It’s a series of numbers where each number is the sum of the two numbers before it. The most common Fibonacci sequence is… 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13. You can see it depicted below. We think it’s pretty cool!

**Johann Gauss:** Gauss is known as the greatest mathematician since ancient times. 18th century German mathematician, Johann Gauss, was the first to find a pattern in prime numbers. He also had some pretty inspiring quotes on learning.

**Brahmagupta**: Do you remember that confusing, yet captivating class on positive and negative numbers? Brahmagupta began that discussion thousands of years ago. He was an Indian Mathematician who used math to determine the position of the planets, the timing of eclipses, and the length of the solar year. He was pretty out of this world.

**Euclid: ** Also know as the “father of geometry.” He was the first to prove the infinity of prime numbers as well as being an established author. His book, Elements, has been an important tool for teaching math for over 2000 years.

Think you have what it takes to be the next great mathematician? Show us what you got in Math Medalist.

Published: 21 Mar 2017

Have you heard the myth that girls are not good at math? Well, there’s a reason why it’s called a “myth”. It’s because it’s just not true. There can be no blanket statement that girls aren’t good at math, because math skills are influenced by genetics, culture, experience, upbringing and attitudes. There is not much we can do about genetics, but the other four elements are adaptable.

**Culture**In many cultures around the world, such as India for example, girls are as skilled as boys in math and enter math related jobs at a higher rate than the U.S. Research is also revealing that in the U.S. in programs where the math curriculum is motivating and relevant, there is no gender gap on math test scores. The current cultural push for students to do well in STEM courses is also resulting in more girls enrolling in higher level math classes in the upper grades.

**Experience**Experience is an important factor for math success, both at school and at home. A math curriculum that emphasizes memorization of math facts and uses speed tests makes math feel shallow and boring. Girls tend to like subjects that are more connected to real life and have depth of meaning. Schools need to examine their math curriculum to make learning math more relevant and stimulating.

**Upbringing**Parents may not have much influence over the math curriculum or teaching strategies, but they can have an impact on their daughter’s math experiences at home and in the community. Integrating math into everyday activities shows children the relevance of math, and shows them that math is not just something you do in school. Activities such as how to divide slices of pizza, how to save money to buy a car, or even finding out how the electoral college works makes math relevant.

**Attitude**The final influence on girls and math is attitude. Attitudes of teachers and parents can greatly impact how girls feel about math. Teachers who say, “Math is just not your thing; you’re good at reading” are unknowingly killing the desire to learn and turning girls away from math. In the same way, parents who say, “I was never good at math either;” or “Ask your Dad for help, he’s better at math” are sending a not-so-subtle message that girls are not expected to do well at math.

So what can parents do? Even if the math your daughter brings home is above what you remember how to do, say, “Let’s figure it out together.” Include your daughter in discussions about money, whether it is about the budget, savings, retirement or college. She needs to understand the practical aspects of knowing how to use math to solve problems in life.

Parents can also make learning math fun. Games are a great way to learn and use math skills. The most obvious games of numbers include cards and dice, but almost all board games include math elements such as counting, adding scores, and spatial reasoning. Some games even have a particular focus on specific math skills.

Many SimplyFun games incorporate various math skills across the grades. For example, games for younger children, such as Digger’s Garden Match involve adding and subtracting and Cow Cents requires children to make change with money. For older children, games involve a broader range of math skills. Use SimplyFun’s Advanced Product Search to help you find the math game that meets your specific needs.

Playing such games with your children allows parents to see how their children are approaching various aspects of math and support them in a non-threatening, non-school-related, enjoyable way. Parents can model how to look at a situation, help their child figure out a best solution, and reinforce the child’s abilities with the math skills involved in the game. Who knew? Math can be fun!

**About the Author**

Dr. Toni Linder is a leader in the field of early childhood development and early childhood special education. She works with children of diverse backgrounds and ability levels, including children that are gifted and talented, who have disabilities or come from backgrounds of poverty, and those from multicultural backgrounds.

Published: 20 Mar 2017

**In a 2010 Change the Equation study, 30% of Americans polled said they would rather clean their bathrooms than do a math problem.**

Oh my gosh, seriously? There are a few things in life that are below cleaning my bathroom, but math certainly isn’t one of them. But then I’m one of the lucky ones who embraced the math skills we all come by naturally with a desire to emulate my father who was the family math expert.

But how is it that so many people hate math? I’m sorry to share that I don’t have the answer, but after doing a bit of research here are a few thoughts on why math might be getting a bad rap:

**No. 10** It is still ‘cool’ to be innumerate though it is not cool to be illiterate.

**No. 9** Math is considered one of the ‘r’s (reading, writing, arithmetic), by definition….BORING.

**No. 8** Pythagorean Theorem –Sounds too big to comprehend.

**No. 7** I have a calculator and it is ALWAYS right! (Guess no finger slip there.)

**No. 6** The person who sits next to me in class can solve the problem faster than me, so why try?

**No. 5** There is no wiggle room…. excuses or maybes in math. There is only one answer which doesn’t fit my creative style.

**No. 4** I tried to solve the problem once and got the wrong answer, so I must be bad at math.

**No. 3** I want to be an entrepreneur making money, not doing boring math problems.

**No. 2** Who needs to make change if you have a credit or debit card?

**No. 1** My [mom, dad, sister, brother, relative – fill in the blank] is bad at math, so I’m probably bad at math too! It must run in the family.

When you read through these items two main themes emerge.

*First, that math is often taught in its strictest form and not translated into real world applications that we use every day.*How scary is it to think that you might not be able to figure out how much an employer owes you in pay or to know how much your credit card is going to charge in interest. What kind of decisions will you make as a business owner if you don’t understand the financial impact of those decisions?*Second, we hear over and over which groups are scoring well in math and which lag behind (think boys versus girls.)*We hear our parents; friends and fellow students explain away their own lack of math skills with ‘I’m not good at math’. All of this chatter provides a great set of excuses for when we meet a math concept that is more challenging for us to grasp. Like learning to shoot a basket or kick a soccer ball into the net for a score, math takes practice and not all ‘math moves’ come without some work.

So considering all of this, why should math be a priority? Math and particularly advanced math is the ultimate way to train your brain to think through complex problems. Understanding math helps you organize your thoughts (working through the order of operations r in equations), experience trial and error (solving for unknowns), and to search for a single answer to a problem (if you know the size of two sides of a triangle, you know the third.) All of these have direct application in our daily lives, and more importantly help us build skills that will contribute to success. If illiterate is uncool, let’s all vote for the same fair treatment for math skills. Don’t perpetuate the coolness of being innumerate! Math deserves a better rap!

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