5, 6, Pick Up Sticks

I am always encouraging you to find materials in your house for teaching opportunities. Why?

1. I like to save money!

2. You are more likely to do the activity if you can access the materials right away.

3. It is more meaningful.

4. Did I already say that I’m  a penny pincher? 

Well, here is a GREAT idea from A Mommy Teacher named Casey and you probably even have the materials in your house already (because you can always substitute), but if not she gets her materials for this activity at the Dollar Tree….Penny pinchers think alike!

From Casey:

“This is our new math activity that James and I do. I bought all of these little tins at the Dollar Tree 3 for $1 in the wedding favor section. So, I bought 12 for $4. Then we got 1000 Popsicle sticks at Hobby Lobby for like $3. We could have used a 40% off coupon if I had it, or waited until they went on sale for 50% off to get them cheaper, but I was impatient.







With a permanent marker, I wrote the numeral on one side, and spelled out the number on the other. We do lots of different things with these…
– put them in numerical order
– put the correct number of Popsicle sticks in each of the tins
– add (he can see the quantity of sticks then count them all to see how many he has)
– subtract
– count by 2s
– find the missing number in the number line (put out the tins for 1…2…_…4… and find which number is missing)
– count backwards
– read the words for the numbers (have all of the numbers facing us, then turn one number around showing the word so he can start recognizing the spellings)
– count by 2’s

Things we do with the popsicle sticks:
– count by 5’s
– count by 10’s
– draw things in sand or rice
– use them to make squares, rectangles, triangles or letters with straight lines

Hitting lots of math standards for only $7 w/o waiting for stuff to go on sale “

Thanks again my Friend!

Counting Practice

I often stress the imporance of teaching counting first when working on math skills, before moving on to other number sense activities.  So, this morning I wanted to provide a counting activity for all of those parents in need of more ideas. 

I LOVE children’s books because it is such a great way to introduce a concept.  Books are so great for children because they have such great illustrations to provide visual cues. 

SO the first aspect of this activity is to read a counting book (order one or go to the library and pick up a few).  Modify this activity depending on the book you choose, but this is the way I recommend: 1) Read 2) Practice in a hands-on way 3)Practice by drawing/recording.

My example for today’s activity is “Mouse Count” by Ellen Stoll Walsh.

Read the book with emphasis, counting the mice with your child, “1,2,3…”, at each opportunity.

After reading the book, find a jar, cup, tupperware, or anything that you could pretend is the jar in the book.  Then find mice cat toys, rubber mice, or use ANY kind of counter (cubes, marbles, etc.) that you could pretend are the mice in the book.  Practice counting out “mice” one at a time as you place them in the “jar.”

Now that you have read and shared in a hands-on reinactment of the story, if your child is ready, you are going to draw “mice” (or circles) for each numbered jar on the handouts attached. When they finish, cut along the table lines, put them in order (with your child) and staple them together to make a book 🙂

Counting Jars 1-4

Counting Jars 5-8

Counting Jars 0,9,10

If your child is not ready for the structure of the handout, give him/her a blank sheet of paper and show them a page of the book and see if they can represent one part of the story (one number).  Sometimes you have to start off SLOW, one number at a time.

Guess How Many Are Left?

Before I talk about today’s activity, I want to bring some insight to the table so that you will know even more about your child’s development.  If you read the math page of daily funwork, you will learn that today’s activity meets the needs of the earliest skills to practice….counting objects.  So that is why today’s activity will not incorporate number symbols.

1. Find a clean sock, mitten, or something that you cannot see through.

2.  Count out a group of 5 counters such as marbles, blocks, coins, etc. 

Order some counters for future activities (if you don’t have any counters you can use):

3.  Count out the manipulatives you selected with your child.

4.  Invite your child to play a guessing game where you will place the “marbles” in the sock and then take some of them out.  You will show them how many you took out and ask them to guess how many are left.  If your child guesses higher than the number, ask questions such as “Do you think there are more than 5 or less than 5 left now that I took some out?” to get them to use critical thinking.  Let your little one feel the sock to try to figure out the amount left.  Take them out and count to check how many are left after each turn.

*If your child is not yet ready for this skill, if they are not guessing anywhere near the correct number after many times of practice, it is OKAY, use it as a counting practice activity 🙂

Math on my Fingers

In the last math post “Math Stories” I talked about the importance of hands-on activities when introducing and practicing new skills.  And in the post “What’s in a number?” I talked about children needing to see number sets represented in many ways.  Today, we are going to combine those two important concepts in a counting activity using their fingers.

Search around your house for something that can fit on your child’s fingers (rings, finger puppets, those Halloween fake finger tips, cubes/blocks that are open on one side, etc.)

Make a group of ten finger-sized manipulatives and ask your child to help you count them out.  Then explain to your little one that you want to play a game where you will call out a number and they will place that many cubes on their fingers (one on each finger) using both hands.  Then you will ask them to show you that same number of cubes in a different way.

Before you play the game you have to show the child on your OWN fingers.  This is important because in EVERY lesson, game, or activity you cant just tell your child what you are going to do…you have to 1) SHOW them.  Then, you will 2) play it WITH them.  Then you will just 3) TELL them.

This is the “I do”, “WE do”, then “YOU do” method to teaching that is really beneficial for the learner.

So, if I were playing this with my child, I would explain the game.  Then I would tell them that if I said the number “3” out loud I would place the cubes on my “right hand thumb, left hand thumb, and left hand pointer finger”  while I counted aloud: “One, two, Three” and then I would say “Now watch! I can put three cubes on my fingers in a different way…maybe I can put one on my right hand tall finger, stack one on top of that, and then put the other on my left hand ring finger.  Do you have an idea of how I can place these three cubes in a different way on my hands?  Show me!  Can you show me on your fingers next?  Let’s try a new number and we can both put that many cubes on our fingers and surprise each other to see if it looks the same or different.  Okay! Now it is your turn to try it by yourself while I call out a number…..”

If you have any questions about this activity or any activity for that matter….







introduce a number set 5-10 Math Stories

In order for your child to learn math skills you will need to incorporate A LOT of hands-on practice and be ready to “play” hands-on games over and over again. The goal is to master 1) hands-on concepts (such as counting blocks) before moving onto 2) symbolic (counting pictures on a paper) and then 3) abstract (visualizing “three” when looking at 3 objects). I can’t even begin to tell you how much research has been conducted on these 3 steps to introducing a new skill to children. So, don’t get ahead of yourself trying to keep up with the Little Einstein’s.
So today’s activity is another hands-on activity for you to begin to introduce a number set of 5-10, in parts. This is an age-old game that I play with my friend’s kids making sure to ask them a lot of deductive reasoning questions while playing with them.
Here it is:
Math Story Activity

And here is a “work mat” if you want to just print one out….they are easy to make.  Make your page orientation landscape and insert clip art and blow up.  You could always print it onto cardstock and place it in a sheet protector so it will last longer 🙂
Park Work Mat



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