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Games That Teach:
NUMBER, COUNTING & EARLY MATH GAMES

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M & M Counting Game

At the end of this counting and color recognition game from Julia F. the children have the opportunity to munch M & M's or snack on vegetable & fruit.

Materials:

1. A small graph with all the different colors of M&M's on it for each child.
                   OR vegetables, fruit etc. on the graph.
2.  Larger graph for use with the entire class 

3. M & M's (or your choice of vegetables / fruit).  Enough for everyone.

Description:
1.    Pass out a handful of M & M's / veggies to every child .
2.   Ask the children to put the colored M & M's / veggies on the correct colored spot on their graph .
3.   Ask the children to count how many red ones, green ones, and so on.
4.   Next, have each child take their favorite color M & M / veggie and place it on the same graph, Use this graph for everyone in the class. This will be the graph that shows everyone's favorite color.

5.   Ask questions such as, "What is the most favorite color of the 
class ."
6.   List the favorites in order, from the most favorite to the least favorite.
7.   Finally, let the kids eat their M & M's / veggies.

Cookie Sheet Ten Frame Games
Tamra M. offers several Ten Frame activities along with an easy description of how to make one. During the activities kindergarten children:
1.  Make predictions as to how many objects are added or taken away from a set.
2.  Count to 10 (or 5 for younger children) & count up from a given number.
3.  Become familiar with addition and subtraction concepts.
4.  Become familiar with odd and even numbers.

Materials:
1.   A cookie sheet that will hold magnets

2.  Electrical tape or another thin sticky tape

3.  Small colorful magnets
4.  OPTIONAL-- primer and spray paint for the cookie sheet

Description:  Making the Ten Frame
First, decide which side of the cookie sheet you will be using to make your ten frame. 
I have used both sides successfully. The same cookie sheet can do double  duty on its opposite side to hold magnetic letters for use with a reading group. Also decide if you like the natural color of the cookie sheet or if you want to 
paint it.

Next, using the electrical tape create a ten frame on the cookie sheet by dividing the sheet in half horizontally with the tape, then place two more long strips of tape  along the top and bottom edges. Frame out the right and left sides, then spacing  the tape as evenly as possible create 5 spaces in each of the bottom and top  rows.
If you are painting your frame you can use masking tape before priming or 
painting and strip off the tape after you have painted. Your ten frame will look  something like this. 

                _____________
                |  |  |  |  |

                _____________

                |  |  |  |  |

                _____________

You can then place one magnet in each square to show  different numbers.
Variation: For the beginning of the year you might want to create a 5 frame 
using the same technique. 

10 Frame Activities

1.    Play subtraction games with the ten frame. Do counting rhymes such as 10 In The Bed, or 5 Little Monkeys. Use the 10 frame to take off the counters as you sing or chant.

2.   Use the 10 frame to play a listening and counting game. Start with an empty frame. Turn the frame so that no students can see how many magnets you are  putting on it. Audibly put the magnets on one by one allowing students to count with their fingers or silently in their heads as you do it.  Have them hold up the number of fingers showing how many magnets they think you have put on the 10 frame.  Show and re-count.

3.    Count up using the ten frame. Play the same listening and counting game-- but start with a number other than one. Have the students put this number "in their heads" and count up from it.

4.    Use the 10 frame to explore odd and even. With the upper and lower rows it is easy to move magnets to show which numbers "have friends" and which are alone.

     
Ladybird Ladybird Fly Away Home
Kate S.
shares this counting game saying, "We introduced a ladybird counting game during our circle time which was a great success.  This was a very simple game to prepare and can be adapted to suit all age groups. This can also be done in smaller groups as well".

Materials: Large green paper leaf, one large die and a variety of ladybirds with different number of spots, which will correspond to the number of spots on the die.  Make sure you have several of each ladybirds.

Description: Place all the ladybirds on the leaf and go around the circle taking turns rolling the die.  Ask the children to count the number of spots on the die and then find a ladybird, which has the same amount of spots.  Once found they can take that ladybird off the leaf.

You can play it in reverse and have the ladybirds on the carpet or table and place the ladybirds on the leaf.  To extend the activity at the end of the game  each child can add up how many spots all the ladybirds have.

Apple Counting Game
Preschool and kindergarten youngsters identify numbers 0-5 and
count sets for 0-5 while playing this early math game from Jenn M. They also begin to understand subtraction by counting how many are left.  A child wins when their tree has been picked of all the apples.

Materials: Paper tree (trunk with large green top) laminated for each child.  10 Velcro dots on each tree.  10 poker chips for each tree with an apple sticker on each, velcro on back. A numbered die 1-5, cover number six with masking tape and  write 0. A Small cup to represent a basket to collect the apples.

Description: Each child will take turns rolling the die and remove the rolled number of apples from the tree. The first child to have no apples left on the tree wins. You must roll the exact number for the last apples.

Jenn's Comments: You can add as many apples to the tree as needed for your group of students.  I have made a class tree and done this as a group.  I have also used  a spinner and "spill the bucket" instead of 0 for students that are able to  understand the concept.
   

Apple Number Game
Claudia P. created this Apple Number Game to reinforce number recognition and counting skills.

Materials:
1. One green place mat

2. 12 apple ornaments -  kind you find at craft stores in fall or at holiday time

3. Black permanent marker
 

Description: This game is played by 2 children. 
In advance cut the place mat in half and draw the shape of an apple tree on each half. Draw 6 circles on each tree and write the numbers 1-6 on each circle.  The circles should be the same size as the bottom of the apples.
On the bottom of each apple put black dots to correspond with each circle on the tree.

Put the apples in a pretty basket. Two children will take turns picking an apple, counting the dots, and matching to the corresponding number.
The first person to "grow" their tree full of apples wins.  Then they can grow another!  If a child picks an apple they already have, they lose their turn.

Claudia's Comments: In my classroom we don't like to make this a competitive game.  The children love to play it over and over!  We say, "It doesn't matter who wins.  It's fun to work together!"

Beanbag Early Math Game
Youngsters use gross motor skills during this circle game by Sarah S. They identify numbers 1-6 and follow directions for performing an action (hopping, etc.).

Materials: Poster board or paper with numbers 1-6 written on it, large enough for all children to see at circle time.
A beanbag and a large carpeted area.

Description: Have children sit in a big circle. Show the children the number poster and help them identify the numbers. Place the poster in the center of the circle and throw the beanbag onto the poster.  Ask the children to name the number it lands on.  While counting out loud, demonstrate jumping that many times, then have the children do it with you.  Throw the beanbag again, have the children name the number, then jump that many times.  Once they understand the game, let each child take a turn throwing the beanbag and naming the number before the class 
does the action together.  You can vary the action-- stomp, tiptoe, turn around,
touch toes, bounce on your knees, etc. 

 

Counting Frogs for Toddlers
Vickie G. shares this counting game saying, "
There are not many math games for toddlers out there, so have fun with this one."

Materials:
1.   Frog bath mats (4)

2.  Large frog counters (6- 10 for each child)

3.  Plastic bucket (one for each child)

Description: Place the mats on the floor in a semi-circle around you.  Have the 
children sit on the mats and give them their buckets and place the frogs on the 

mat.  Help them count as they place their frogs in the bucket. 

Vickie's Comments: This can change with the counters.  I have gotten duck mats that work well also.  The children love this center, and really enjoy the frogs and ducks.

Early Math: Jump Twister
During this fun gross motor math lesson plan from Tracy E. young children recognize numbers and find out that
math does not always have to be 
done with a pencil and paper.

Learning Experiences: 

• Large Motor Development

• Cognitive Development

• Sensory Development – sight & sound

• Social Development – talking, laughing and having fun

Materials Needed:

• Twister Game ($14.00 at Target or Wal-Mart)

• Marker or tape to make numbers on the Twister mat
• 4-6 children
Space Needed:
An area that is at least four feet wide and 6 feet long.

Description: Time needed:

• 5 minutes needed for setup and directions to children

• 30-60 minutes for playing depending on how involved children are.

• 5 minutes cleanup

In Advance: Teachers find or Buy a Twister board. Get marker or tape to make numbers (1-4 or 1-6, your choice) on the dots on the Twister board AND spinner board.

In the classroom:
• Lay out twister mat

• Tell the children directions; Teachers call out a number and children can jump to it. Teachers can have them jump on two feet or one foot, skip to it, etc.

• Start calling out the numbers and help the children if they need it.

Clean up 

• Fold up board

• Say good bye and thank you to everyone

Tracy's Evaluation:
Overall, my math game with the children went very well, except that the children did not want to stop playing the game. 

Related Experiences:
Have the children add to their number –for example, say they were on one, 
you could say, "Lets add one to the number you are on."  They could either jump to the next number or to one. Or you could say, "Can we cover all the ones, twos, threes, etc." 

Tracy's Comments and Suggestions:  I had a great time and if I had to do this math game over again I would find a way that the mat would stay in place more than it did. 
 

Twister: Visual Recognition of Numbers
Jeanine S. offers this variation on the gross motor Twister game to help children recognize numbers and have fun.

Materials:  Write on square or circle pieces of paper and tape to floor- 4 sets of numbers in 4 rows.

Description: This game works just like the game twister. Teachers pick 4 numbers to stress or concentrate.
Make 4 sets of the numbers and line them up on the floor, just like the twister game. Depending on the age group teachers can call out a body part that children have to put on the number. If their bottoms touches the floor, 
they are eliminated from the game.

Comments: It worked well. Some of the kids that had never played twister were confused at first but otherwise, a lot of fun. Recommend playing twister first.
 

Number Bingo
This early math game by Park Y. is for older preschool and kindergarten children and reinforces number recognition.

Materials: Flash cards of numbers 1-10,  Bingo grid and a pencil or crayon for each child. If you have access to a copier now is the time to use it.   

Description: In advance teachers:
1. Draw a grid on the paper.(2*2=4 squares)
or More depending on the children's abilities.
2. Write any number from 1-10 in each square.
All the numbers should be different.

Play a game of Number Bingo.
1. Teachers call out the numbers 1-10.

2. If the students have the number in their grid they should cross it out.

3. As soon as a student has all four (or more)  numbers crossed out, he or she shouts 'Bingo'.

 

Early Counting Game
While playing this early math game from Jane young children practice counting and increase their fine motor strength by developing their pincer grasp.

Materials: Pom poms, 1 or 2 large dice and clothes pins (the kind you squeeze).

Description: In a small group, a child rolls the die. He / she  identifies what number comes up and picks up that many pom poms with a clothes pin. You can add variations by having children identify small, medium or large pom poms or by asking them to pick up a specific color. Then the next child takes his / her turn. 

Comments: The kids love this game and it can be used for seriation (small, medium or large) and also for color recognition. It's great for early counting as children count all their pom poms at the end.
 

Number Matching Game
Debbie helps children identify and match numbers 1-10 during this easy game that can be used during an Apple Theme.

Materials: 10 red construction paper apples with a number on each and 10 little green worms with a number on each.

Description: The children match the worms 1-10 to the apples 1-10.

Comments: The children love the little worms  and have such a fun time helping the little worms find their apples! 
 

Paper Clip Game
Youngsters use small motor skills during this easy to prepare number match game by Marilyn M.

Materials:
1.  Heavy paper / card stock cut in rectangles to suit your needs

2. Numerals and dots to correspond on each card. e.g. the numeral 3 and 3 stick-on dots or drawn dots. 

3. Large paper clips

Description: Children are invited to attach paper clips to match the numerals and dots on each card.

Pumpkin Vine Game
Youngsters practice counting during this easy game from L.B. which can be used during Fall Themes.

Materials: Paper pumpkins, paper vine and large dice.

Description: Explain to the children that this is a Pumpkin Vine Game. Invite children to roll a dice and then count the number of dots on the dice.  Have then count independently if possible, but if not, model the counting and help 
them. What ever number they land on is how many pumpkins they can put on the vine.

 

Early Math Flannel Graph
Christine F. uses this activity to increase children's number recognition skills.

Materials:
1.    Individual number cards, not too large, playing card size is fine, adapted for flannel or magnetic board.

2.   Items to count, such as - over the holiday use the fronts of christmas cards. also adapted for flannel or magnetic board.

Description: Set up the flannel board.  Have available a flat space for displaying  objects for counting.  Decide which numbers you want to focus on.  I teach 2's  so we rarely go above 3.  Call a child.  When she / he comes forward hold out the  number cards face down.  Instruct her / him to pick a number.  When she does, have her identify it.  If she can not do it, tell her or hold up the card for "help".  Let the child place the card onto the flannel graph.  Then instruct  her to count out the correct number of items to place on the board with her number. Give as much or as little help as needed.

Comments: My class is small, 9, so I have a basket and pull out names.  everyone always gets a turn.  A 
larger class would need to let a few children each day as this takes a while with little  ones.  They want everything just right.  We have a lot of fun.  After the number and items are on the board I say "(Emily) picked the letter 3 (I point to it) and  she put up 3 Christmas cards (count them)."  We clap and cheer each child.
This game is easily adapted for any season or holiday. My kids love it. Even the youngest can do  1  and my older ones can do up to 3 and 4.

 

Bear Game
Jennifer B. shares this game saying, "The objective of this activity is for children to do rote counting, can be 
individually or group or pairs.  Whichever the children prefer.  They also experience a different type of play, a game with rules.  One child goes, and the next goes, taking turns." 

Materials:
1.   A large piece of paper / poster board / oak tag (heavy kind)

2.  A dice or you can make one of your own.

3.  Teddy Bear Manipulatives
 

Description: First, prepare the game board on the paper / poster board / oak tag
Chose where you want the children to start from and where they will end.
At the starting point draw a cave with a bear standing in front of it. 

At the end, draw a 
tree with a honey hive and bees flying around it.
Next, draw a winding path all over paper from the cave to the honey tree include bear prints on the path. The children count the bear prints during the game so make lots of prints.
Finally, around the path draw trees, bushes with berries, a mountain side etc. You can be as creative as you like.
 
Introduce the game, showing the children how to roll the dice and step on the bear prints according to the number on the dice. Allow the children to make up the rules to the game and play during their center time.

Comments: If this is the first time children are playing with this type of game, they will need supervision.  It takes patience, for children to wait for their turn so only a few at at time play. It is also best to laminate the game board before it is used.  
 

Cotton Ball Game
Foster small muscle coordination and encourage group cooperation while preschool and kindergarten children use counting skills during this early math game by Kelley D.

Materials: Cotton balls,
10 strips of heavy paper 1" by 2"

1 drawstring bag

Felt tip markers

1 basket or bowl

Scissors 

Description:
1.  Number the strips of heavy paper 0-9 and fold in half

2.  Place the folded strips of paper in the bag

3.  Place the cotton balls in the basket or bowl
. The children take turns pulling a slip of paper from the bag, reading  the number and counting out the appropriate number of cotton balls from the bowl.

Extensions: Extend this activity by substituting nuts, wooden cubes, plastic animals, beans, or any other object for the cotton balls.  The game is over when all the
cotton balls have been distributed.  The children then count their cotton balls.


The Ring Game
Sue M. promotes counting skills and quantification understanding as children
participate in this easy early math game.

Materials:
Variety of plastic rings

One die

A container

Description: This activity should be played with no more than six children at a  time as it is difficult for young children to wait for a turn AND have fun.
The teacher presents a tin, basket, bag, or other container that holds a variety of plastic rings. To motivate the children have them guess what is in the container.  Then shake it to give them a clue.
Lastly, give them a hint, such as, "It is something you wear on your fingers." Show them what is in the bag 
and explain that this is a ring game.

Each child rolls the die and can choose that number of rings to place on any finger.
Go around the circle about 4 times (less is there are younger children more if there is a smaller group).
When the game ends, each child takes off one ring at a time and counts them.
Then the children compare who has More and who had Less. 

Comments: This is a highly motivating game for girls and boys.  The activity allows the teacher to evaluate the children's understanding of quantity as well as helping them compare the number of rings that fit on each child's finger.  It also helps children recognize the diversity of other's hands.  
 

Beat the Teacher
The object of this number game by Cheryl D. is for students to determine whether they have More, Less or the Same number as the teacher when both the student and the teacher draw a card.

Materials: Jumbo Playing cards

Description: Each child has an opportunity to draw one of the playing cards and 
decide if it is more, less, or the same as the teacher's playing card.  The other students in the group can help him / her if help is needed..  If they have more than the teacher, the card goes in the student's pile.  If they have less, the card goes in the teacher pile. If it is the same, they both draw again and the winner gets all four cards.
When everyone has had a turn.  Count the cards in each pile. 

If the students have more cards they win.  If the students win reward the winners with 
extra recess time etc.
If the teacher wins, the students do a small task for the teacher, (clean the room, help put out cots, etc.).

Variations: For older kids you can make a set of cards with just the numerals on them, or use addition, subtraction, multiplication or division cards.

Comments: My kids love the idea of beating the teacher!  
 

Reindeer Game
Children match number sets to numerals during this game by Wendy U. which can be used with a Christmas Theme.

Materials: Dice and pictures of reindeers with numerals written on them. 

Description: Copy pictures of reindeers and cut them out in square shapes. 
Next, write the numerals 1-5 on each set of cards.  Ask the children to work in 

pairs and give each pair one die.  One child shakes the die and the other child 

has to find the reindeer card to match the number of dots on the die.  Then the 

children switch roles, so that both children have a chance to shake the die and match the numbers. 

Comments: The children really enjoy this activity, and it was a good way to observe which children were able to identify the numbers.  
 

Coin Flip Game
Here is a math game that expands a child's counting skills and involves writing or recording. Two older preschool or kindergarten children can play, or the game can be played with one child and an adult which is the way Jessica M. plays the game.

Materials: Two Coins, paper and pencil.

Description: Flip one coin. Every time it says heads the child gets one point and 
every time it says tails you get one point.  Set a number that you have to reach 

to win.  Write down and count all the points that you and the child accomplish.
 
 

Mail Carrier Game
Amy R. suggests this game that can be used as children practice recognizing their names and addresses. The contents of the envelope can be numbers, shapes, letters or whatever is the focus of your theme. 

Materials: One envelope for each child, poster board, clear contact paper, and pictures related to your theme.

Description: In advance teachers cut poster board into pieces that will fit into the envelopes. Glue or draw a picture, shape, number, etc. on each piece of poster board and place one in each envelope. Write each child's name and address on an envelope  and draw a pretend stamp in the corner - do not seal the envelope.

The teacher delivers the mail to each student and tells each that he / she has 
received something in the mail.  Have each child open his / her envelope and 

describe what is in it.  This is a fun way to do flash cards.

Related Themes:


 

 

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