I truly believe that making school, and learning subjects such as math, fun and hands-on is the best way for kids to learn. If kids are engaged in math activities then they are more likely to learn, and be happy doing it!
Recognizing, representing and counting numbers is an essential skill for kids to learn. There are many great ways to teach kids. I tried all of the activities below with over 100 3-6 year olds at school. So they are tried and tested!
The kids loved them! They had so much fun learning math using hands-on materials and in fun ways. Look through for some ideas at home or the classroom.
Try them out and get kids excited about math!
Musical Math Activities
I printed a class set of ten frames onto bright paper. I then laminated all of the sheets. These sheets have now lasted me several years and we use them all the time! Ten frames are a great way to get kids to organize their work and numbers.
For this activity, each child received a ten frame along with 10 wooden bunnies. Any manipulative will work, but I used bunnies because we were working with a spring theme.
Next, I put on the song “5 Green and Speckled Frogs” to start. There are lots of counting songs on YouTube that you can use. Any children’s song that focuses on the numbers 1-10 will work.
As the music plays, children follow along and move their bunnies off of the board as the frogs jump into the pond.
There are other songs that count from 1-10 that children placed a bunny on their ten frame as the number is said. The music keeps children engaged and it adds a great element to any math period.
Hands-on Numbers Math Activities
This is a really simple idea, but works really well with young kids.
To start, I laminated the numbers 0-10 and gave each student a bag filled with the numbers.
First, I asked everyone to put the numbers in order. This is a really quick and easy way to see if children recognize the numbers and can put them in order.
I then held up a specific number of fingers and asked everyone to find the number in their bag and hold it up. We tried this with several combinations of fingers.
Avoid always putting up fingers in order. (ie. thumb, pointer and pinky challenges children to recognize or count the fingers.
You can also use both hands. For example, on one hand, hold up two fingers and on the other hold up 5. Can children count and basically add the amount from both hands to find the total number held up?
Next, everyone created a number line and we worked on counting up and down. For example, I asked children what number is 2 more than 5. They would count and hold up the number 7.
I would ask them to show me a number greater than 8. They could hold up the 9 or 10. I think that part of the reason that the children enjoy these counting math activities so much is that there was no paper and pencil. It is all hands-on.
We did various other counting activities with the numbers – the possibilities are endless. Giving each child their own set of numbers holds everyone accountable and also keeps them engaged.
I have a class set of white boards and markers. We bring them out all the time! They are great for getting quick answers and children being able to show their answers by showing their boards.
I love using white boards in my classroom and children love using them.
For these math activities, I started by showing everyone my two white boards. One with 4 tally marks and the other with 5 dots. I asked them to tell me if the 2 boards showed the same (equal) amount and explain why.
Next, children were then asked to draw tally marks and dots that were equal (unlike the example). They either added an extra line to the tally or erased one of the dots.
This activity worked well as a math talk, and the white boards provide a great follow up to check children’s understanding.
Wooden Number Line
I found these wooden blocks at a dollar store, and my students loved using them. We have played math games and even done STEM challenges with them.
They are perfect for hands-on learning. I printed numbers on the blocks and then children were challenged to put the blocks in numerical order.
It is a very simple idea, but the children were really excited to create a number line in this way. They begin to learn to look in the tens column for matching digits.
This math activity worked well with small groups, but could be done with a whole class or in pairs.
For these math activities, you will need the ten frame sheets, a variety of mini erasers and number cut outs.
I have accumulated quite a collection of mini erasers that are probably my students favourite math manipulative. They are small, colourful and fun for any hands-on activity.
I gave everyone a ten frame, and a container of mini erasers. to use as manipulatives.
To start, one child chose a wooden number and showed it to their group. Everyone in the group then had to create that number on their ten frame. Everyone took turns picking a number.
Children then had the choice between representing a number with mini erasers and everyone else had to find the wooden number or picking a wooden number for their friends to represent.
This is a great way to get children to organize their numbers and amounts by using the ten frame.
To add to this challenge, or for older children, you can show two numbers and have them represent the difference on their ten frame. Whatever you choose to do, kids will love the hands-on learning.
It is so easy to make math activities exciting and interesting!
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