Have you ever seen a play-based learning activity and thought “That looks fun. Too bad my kiddo is too –little/big/studying something else–” ? Here’s a friendly reminder to get that thought out of your head! With a little creativity, most activities can be scaled up or down as needed. This activity is fun for all ages, uses very common kitchen materials, and no green thumb is required – unless you accidentally paint yours! Check out this fun activity inspired by Mrs. Myra from the 2-year old class.
Plant a Number Line
- Popsicle sticks
- Cupcake liners OR coffee filters
- An empty paper towel tube (Toilet paper tubes work as well. You just might need more!)
- Markers OR paint
- Scissors OR a sharp knife
- Paint your popsicle sticks green. These are your stems.
- Paint your cupcake liners any color you want! These are your flowers.
- Count how many flowers you have. This is the number of holes you will need to poke in your paper towel tube so your flower stems (popsicle sticks) can stand up straight. Label each hole with a number.
- Number your flowers.
- Glue one flower to one popsicle stick. You’ve created a flower!
- Place each numbered flower in its corresponding hole.
- Label each hole and flower with shapes or letters instead of numbers.
- Spell out your child’s name.
- Label each hole with tally marks (||). Label each flower with the Arabic numeral (2). Have your child match the correct numeral to the correct number of tallies.
- Label each hole and flower with simple sight words (who, the, we, I, were, me, be, etc.)
Why We Love This
This activity ecnompasses all that is great is about play-based learning. It’s a craft, a recognition/matching game, and a fine motor activity. For younger ones with shorter attention spans, feel free to do the craft part one day and the game part the next. It’s also very customizable so you can add or decrease difficulty as needed.
One of the things we love about play-based learning is that we don’t use worksheets. It’s not that worksheets don’t have their usefulness in some contexts. It’s that play-based learning provides activities that promote higher-thinking instead of simple rote memorization. These activities take a concept (like addition) and turn it into a hands-on game. The goal isn’t simply to write down the correct answer — it’s to understand the reason we came to the correct answer. Plus who doesn’t love to play games? We sure do! Check out this fun math game from Ms. Katie and Ms. Tevin’s class.
Add the Objects Game
- Construction paper & pen
- Small countable objects (we used foam hearts)
- Number cards
- Draw three circles on your paper: 2 smaller circles at the top and 1 larger circle at the bottom.
- Draw one line from each of the smaller circles to the bigger circle at the bottom to connect them.
- Choose two number cards – one for each of the smaller circles. Have your child count out the correct number of objects to match the cards and place them in the circles. We used small foam hearts but you can use any objects you have handy. Beans, cotton balls, or goldfish crackers would all work well.
*Alternatively, you can place the objects in the circle first and then have your child count them. Then they sort through the number cards and pick the correct card to match the number of objects in each circle.
- Have your child move the objects from the two smaller circles to the larger circle. Now count them again!
Why We Love This
This is a great interactive activity that works on the skills of counting one-to-one and simple addition. Using the number cards also promotes number recognition. You can modify it for younger children by using fewer objects or up the difficulty for older children by working in reverse (subtraction). After adding to the big circle, simply choose another number card and take away that number of objects from the larger circle.