For a week in our kindergarten class we have been playing with Tiny Polka Dot! I had been excited about these cards arriving for a while, and I was not disappointed. They are colorful, sturdy and creative, and my students fell in love with them right away. But the most wonderful thing about them is that there are a myriad of ways that one can use them, including a ton of games (some of them come as suggestions with the cards, but I’ve been coming up with a bunch of my own).
The cards come in six colors and there are cards with representations of the numbers 0-10 for each color. The representations are: ten-frame, “standard dice”, in a circle, 2-color, randomly arranged different size dots, and numeral.
Here is a sample of the activities that we did and games that we played.
The first time I showed my students the Tiny Polka Dot cards, I gave them some time to just examine them by laying some out and passing some around. Then, as a warm-up, I gave each student five cards at random and they had to arrange them from smallest to largest.
For the next activity, the students took turns rolling a 10-sided die (too bad there’s no 11-sided die!) and then finding a card on the board with that many dots on it. I noticed that for numbers up to 5, the kids had no trouble finding a card without any counting, but larger numbers often presented more of a challenge. Most students recognized 6 as 3 and 3 or 8 as 4 and 4, and some know that 3 rows of 3 is 9, but beyond that the kids had to count the dots. By far the greatest challenge was counting the dots in a circular arrangement on the orange cards.
The following day, we played a game to practice their number bonds. I separated out those cards with up to 6 dots on them and then laid three colors out on the floor and shuffled the remaining three into a draw pile. The students took turns taking a card from the draw pile and then finding a card on the board to make a pair with a total of 6 dots. Then, to up the challenge a bit, we played the same game but with a target total of 8.
Later in the week, we played different versions of memory with the cards. In the simplest version, we used two suits of cards and the students had to find pairs with equal numbers of dots. In other versions, students had to find pairs with a target total number of dots (anywhere between 5 and 10).
Both the students and I had a super fun week playing with the Tiny Polka Dot cards and I plan on taking them out many more times throughout the year!