Math-A-Magician Activity Set
Upon opening the Math-A-Magician Activity set, I discovered a spinner board, a big magic hat and two bags of plastic rabbits. One bag was smaller rabbits, while the other was larger rabbits. Both bags each contained six rabbits that were orange, green, and purple for a total of 36 rabbits (18 small and 18 large, 12 orange, 12 green, 12 purple). The first thing I noticed was that the small rabbits seemed a bit too small for a 4-year-old and could definitely pose a choking hazard, while the larger rabbits were the perfect size. While looking at the colors and also the corresponding colors on the spinner, I noticed that the orange rabbits were just that, bright orange, thought the spinner color was more of a yellow. During game play this was brought up as a question from a 4 and a half year old. I had to explain that we will pretend the yellow is meant to match with the orange rabbits (which of course only lasted so long before the question came up again). The hat is a decent size and all 36 rabbits fit into it perfectly, but the covers on top are made of a rather thick plastic and upon pulling a rabbit(s) out of the hat most of the time someone had to hold the hat or you hold the hat to get your hand back out of the hat. Maybe a fabric you could put your hand through would have been a better choice for the hat. The spinner board has four separate spinners on it, one spinner has a half circle of purple, one a half circle of green, one a half circle of orange and the other half of the circles for each color are evenly split quarter circles between the other two colors. The half circle represents large rabbits, while the quarter circle colors each represent the smaller rabbits. The forth spinner has the circle divided into equal thirds, each third of one of the three colors. At first I thought, now why did they do this, would it not be easier to have one spinner with three colors and one spinner with small and large? But then considered while this does encourage a child to think they landed on a half circle with purple, so seeing purple is the largest part of the circle then it must mean a large rabbit.
There is a very wide array of game choices and activities that can be done. The instruction book that comes with the activity set suggests games of Numbers (counting) Algebraic Thinking, Geometry, Measurement, and even Data Analysis and Probability. Most of these games held the attention of a 4 and a half year old, but the graphing activities were too advanced, nor did they hold her attention very long. However the favorite activity was the Math-a-Magician Game. Everyone reaches into the hat and takes 10 rabbits. The first person spins any one of the spinners, they can choose which of the four to spin. When the spinners stops on a color you then put that color rabbit back into the hat (logic being if you have more purple rabbits spin the spinner with the half purple circle), then move on to the next person, spin the spinner, check for the color rabbit and put it in the hat. The object of the game is to be the first person to get all 10 of your rabbits back in the hat. However, if your spinner lands on the color and you do not have that color rabbit you can choose someone with that color rabbit to put their rabbit into the hat. I like this idea, it teaches children to pay it forward while also teaching how to be a good sport during an activity even if you don’t win that activity. You could also change this game a little bit and do color and size and then into the hat.
The second favorite activity was the Add It Up game. Each person reaches into the hat and grabs a handful of rabbits. Then you can either have players sort their rabbits by color or sort them by size. Once they sorted compose a number sentence explaining what you pulled out of the hats. For example, five rabbits are pulled out of the hat and two are green, one purple, two orange, three large, and two small. This activity encourages your child to think logical number operations and put into words what they have. They could say (based on color or size) I have two green rabbits, one purple rabbit, and two orange rabbits for a total of five rabbits, or I have three large rabbits and two small rabbits for a total of five rabbits. You do not have to set the amount in which they can pull out of the hat, just let them pull a handful out and sort them from there. They think by color or size and sort into piles. This game was great for the older girl that was playing with us, because her hands were larger and she could grab more rabbits, but the 4 and a half year old was a little discouraged she couldn’t grab as many rabbits out of the hat.
This is great for teaching younger children how to count, how to differentiate between different colors, how to differentiate between small and large, and of course every little kid loves rabbits and what is everyone’s favorite magic trick anyway? The rabbit being pulled out of the magician’s hat! I was a little uncomfortable with the smaller rabbit pieces, as I said they seemed too small for a 4-year-old and could easily be lost. The inside of the hat is large enough that the rabbits could be a little bit bigger and the spinner board may be made to match the orange color rabbits better or change the orange rabbits to yellow. For a classroom of preschool children to play, this could hold their attention for awhile, simply due to the fact they all wanted a certain color and would like to play and play just to have that color no matter which activity they are doing. Ever since first taking this game out of the box and playing it, I keep being asked “when are you going to let us pull the rabbits out of the hat again?” which I think is cute. Children want to play it again, they are eager to learn and the activities are easy to explain to younger children. I did however find a 9-year-old child seemed to get bored with it all really fast, even though she was participating to give an opinion and also to assist with numbers and colors.
All in all I give this game 4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend it to all my friends with children 4+ years going into preschool or just starting to learn counting, colors, and size differences.