Some people spend their little quiet moments during the day planning their dream house or trying to decide where their next vacation will be. When my two kids give me more than three minutes to myself, I think about what I can use that empty box in the family room for, a craft to match their new favorite book, and new ways to work on basic skills like letter and number recognition.
I started wrangling kids into games, songs, and crafts when I was barely a teenager and never really stopped. Along the way I picked up a few degrees, including one in Elementary Education, and a ton of hands-on experience. I’ve been a camp leader, preschool teacher, nanny, reading tutor, childcare director, and mom. Now I spend my days creating learning activities for kids and writing about them online so that other parents and teachers can use them. I am excited to be part of PBS Parents here on Adventures In Learning.
Today I want to share this simple math activity that can be easily adapted to a variety of levels. My son who is a first grader and my daughter who is a preschooler both enjoyed it with only a few modifications. For the younger kids, it’s a simple one-to-one correspondence game, but the older children can work on subitizing (the ability to recognize amounts quickly without counting) and addition too.
What You Will Need
- Construction paper in white, green, and red
- Cardstock (I used 4 sentence strips)
- Red marker
- Dried black beans and a small container for them
- Cookie tray (optional but it will help contain runaway beans)
How to Prepare
- Cut the red construction paper into the shape of an apple.
- Cut the white construction paper into the same shape but smaller.
- Cut a few leaves out of the green paper (use scrap for this if possible).
- Glue the white onto the red centering it on the paper.
- Glue the leaves on top too.
- Write tally marks on the cut cardstock with the marker.
How to Play
This is great for one-on-one correspondence practice as well as learning about tally marks. I was surprised my daughter knew the tally mark for 5 and could use the cards I had intended only for her brother with ease.
For children ready for addition, give them the same setup but break the cards into two piles. Have them add the two tally mark cards together and use the beans to show their answer. We used a dry erase marker to made an addition sign, but my son said he didn’t need it so he wiped it off. Most of these were easy subitizing practice for my son, but a few posed a fair challenge.
When the tally marks were intimidating he subitized each card independently, placed each set of beans on the apple, then added them together for the sum. For us this was a good lesson in using all different math skills: subitizing, counting, adding, and using manipulatives.