Same or Different?

“You like ‘poTAYtoes’, and I like ‘poTAHtoes’, you like ‘toMAYtoes’, and I like ‘toMAHtoes’…”

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

The game Same or Different? is one of the easiest games to understand and immediately play because we humans play it constantly without realizing it. Categorization is an important kind of mathematical thinking, and this game, like Which One Doesn’t Belong, encourages that. So let’s play! Look at the two groups in the above image, and ask Same or Different?

Same: They are both foods in the produce aisle.

Different: Tomatoes are fruit, potatoes are root vegetables.

Same: They are both about the same size and spherical shape.

Different: The tomatoes have leafy parts. (Follow-up: What if the potatoes had sprouting roots?)

Different: The tomatoes are red, the potatoes are brownish. (Follow-up: What if the potatoes were the red variety?)

Same: They both are in a big bin and there are hundreds of them.

You get the idea!

This is also a game where you can incorporate the mathematical principles of size, position, quantity and shape while playing.

The video from the How-to page demonstrates how this game might go with kids (videos on the How-to page are also now available in Spanish):

If you want to start playing this game at home with some guidance, check out our printables. They will help you get a feel for how to choose the two objects to compare. You can play with your kids and make it a conversation, or send the older kids off on their own to write down their answers for some math + opinion writing time. If they really get into it (or you do!), you can also make your own games using our blank printables.

Here’s a video I took of my 5-year-old sharing her ideas for Same or Different? with some additional ideas added from her older sister:

If your family enjoys some friendly competition, you can also make it a Same or Different? battle. Have one person take the “same” position and the other argue “different” until one runs out of ideas. (Hint: In my experience, “same” is generally the harder position to argue, so you might want the older, more gracious participant take that position.)

Here are my oldest two kids using our printables for a fun Same or Different? battle:

Melissa Burt

Melissa Burt

Guest Contributor

Melissa is a Graphic Designer & Copywriter at Educational Service District 112 who provides design for Math Anywhere’s printed and online materials. She is also the mother of four young math-curious kiddos.

How Many?

The game How Many? is such a versatile one because of its seeming simplicity. You can ask this question of just about anything. That simple question has so many hidden depths of possibility though. Take the image above: How many ways can you answer “How Many?”?

The obvious: Six eggs

But…keep going!

Um…One carton

Keep going!

Half a dozen

Two diamond shapes between the eggs

Six triangles at the edges (one hidden by the logo)

Six words

36 characters

Three letter ‘o’s

Hundreds of speckles on the eggs

You get the idea!

This game really stretches your perception of countable items, right? The video from the How-to page demonstrates how this game might go with kids (videos on the How-to page are also now available in Spanish):

Like I said, you can play this game looking at anything around you, but if you want some fun images to challenge your kids’ counting prowess, check out the Idea Gallery and click on the “How Many” button.

Counting for How Many? doesn’t have to be limited to finite numbers. For those pictures that have A LOT of items, this is a great way for kids to practice their estimating skills. Words like about, approximately, a lot, dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions are all acceptable in the answers. Even quantitative phrases like not enough and too many are fair game.

For older kids, try to get them to work in some fractions and negative numbers too.

Special thanks to Christopher Danielson, author of the How Many: A Counting Book who started all this fun!

Melissa Burt

Melissa Burt

Guest Contributor

Melissa is a Graphic Designer & Copywriter at Educational Service District 112 who provides design for Math Anywhere’s printed and online materials. She is also the mother of four young math-curious kiddos.

Which One Doesn’t Belong?

When I was first brought on to help with materials for the Math Anywhere project a couple of years ago, it took me a while to wrap my head around the math games. When I was growing up, math was something scary that you did in school under the supervision of a professional. The idea of math as something fun and playful seemed foreign to me, until I realized that the “math” in these open-ended games was something much broader than equations on a chalkboard (where there most definitely IS a right answer). In fact, I discovered that I had already been playing these math games with my own kids without knowing it!

One of my favorite of these games is Which One Doesn’t Belong? because it reminds me of that old Sesame Street game. Except on Sesame Street at the end of the game, they tell you the “answer.” In today’s version of Which One Doesn’t Belong?, the four objects are deliberately chosen so that any of them could be the right answer. The video from the How-to page demonstrates that (videos on the How-to page are also available in Spanish):

At first, when I played this game with my own kids, my oldest (the overachiever who really loves being “right”) felt “tricked” that there was no one right answer. Her younger brother instantly loved it though, and immediately set about creating his own sets of four. Now that they are familiar with it, all the kids love this game, and even the 3- and 5-year-old enjoy playing.

If you want to start playing this game at home with some guidance, check out our printables. They will help you get a feel for how to choose objects in the groupings. You can play with your kids and make it a conversation, or send the older kids off on their own to write down their answers for some math + opinion writing time. If they really get into it (or you do!), you can also make your own games using our blank printables.

Here’s a video I took of my 5-year-old sharing her ideas for Which One Doesn’t Belong?:

You’ll notice how I don’t jump in with ideas myself, but I do prompt her to keep going and help her elaborate on her ideas. She comes up with ideas related to color, material (soft vs. hard), number of colors, and shape. Other ideas for these games can incorporate position (high/low/near/far), size, quantity, function/use and just about anything.

At this point you might be wondering: How exactly is this math?

These games are designed to help stimulate curiosity and critical thinking that is so key to math learning. They also help introduce math as something playful and fun that families can do together, so that kids (and their grownups) have a positive approach toward math. Our videos and printables are designed in particular for early learners (though they are fun for all ages). If your kids are older and you want to bring more traditional math into the play, check out the games on this site.

Special thanks to Christopher Danielson, author of the Which One Doesn’t Belong: A Shapes Book who started all this fun!

Melissa Burt

Melissa Burt

Guest Contributor

Melissa is a Graphic Designer & Copywriter at Educational Service District 112 who provides design for Math Anywhere’s printed and online materials. She is also the mother of four young math-curious kiddos.