Playing and having fun with math is foreign to so many parents they are sure it can't be this easy. Actually it is. You have to direct a lot of the learning but over all you will see a lot of it can be self directed.
Here are a few of vids that focus on just this one activity: building pyramids. Starting with this short one where we made nines:
Here is a slightly longer vid where we made 12's:
And here is a longer sample lesson with a child that has a few cognitive challenges, but you can hear him catching on after a very short time. You won't find this vid because it is UNLISTED. You will also find it on the sample lessons page.
In the past I have said I don't want to hit you over the head with it but due to some comments made by well meaning parents and teachers of late I am going to hit you over the head with it:
"Play is our brain's favorite way of learning."~Diane Ackerman
Contemporary American author
"Almost all creativity involves purposeful play."~Abraham Maslow
American psychologist 1908–1970
This is not a new concept:
"Do not…keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play."~Plato
Greek philosopher, 427–347 BC
"Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play." ~Heraclitus, Greek philosopher 535–475 BC
"Whoever wants to understand much must play much." ~Gottfried Benn
German physician 1886–1956
"Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold." ~Joseph Chilton Pearce, Contemporary American scholar
"Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning." ~Fred Rogers
American television personality, 1928–2003
"Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity." ~Kay Redfield Jamison, Contemporary American professor of psychiatry
"Deep meaning lies often in childish play." ~Johann Friedrich von Schiller
German poet 1759–1805
"Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn."
~O. Fred Donaldson, Contemporary American martial arts master
Now if you so are so foolish as to think that you are wiser and smarter than that partial list of people who understand how important play is, I am sorry for you. Play is not just for recess and math can indeed be taught through play. Further, children who learn this way are not confused when it comes time to take tests, because they actually understand the math the questions on these tests are easy and they usually score not just well but in the top percentile of their peers.
With the manipulatives they can actually SEE what they are doing. It's not like this is another way to do math it is a decoding of the symbols in such fashion that both the conscious and sub-conscious mind can understand and better yet it is presented through play.