This little math tray is such a fun idea for a variety of ages. The novelty of the ants and the quick set up for teachers and parents make it a great spring math tray idea for anyone. You can set it up and have children complete what you have laid out for them, or give them the marker and all the control. I like using little math trays in my preschool class during free choice, the second idea in the tutorial is perfect for preschool.
Here is how I made this math tray:
Gather your materials. You will need some brown construction paper, a brown marker or crayon, scissors, a tray, contact paper, and some ants. Plastic ants, the real ones aren’t very good listeners.
Start by coloring your paper to give it a wood-like texture.
Next, cut it into log shapes.
Place it on your tray and cover with contact paper. You could also laminate each log for the same overall effect but at home, I do not have a laminator.
Using a dry erase marker you can write simple equations like these simple ones I did for my daughter who is in kindergarten.
She wanted to write the sum in with dry erase too, which is rad but don’t push it if they resist.
For our friend who is a preschooler I erased the equation and made dots. He was able to work on one-to-one correspondence and counting.
So simple, made in about 3 minutes and with the contact paper, I could re-use it and change the level to suit each child easily.
Books About Bugs
Book lists contain affiliate links.
Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! by Bob Barner is a good book for little ones interested in bugs, but not ready for a full nonfiction science book. Various bugs are introduced with a fact about them, and the coolest part of the book is the page with the life-size illustrations of all the bugs. The illustrations are bright and fun, and the length is perfect for toddlers and young preschoolers.
An Ant’s Day Off by Bonny Becker is an interesting tale about an ant who has lived his whole life never seeing the sky or anything beyond the tunnels he works in until one day he decides to take the day off. The text was a little long for my son who kept flip flopping on my bed, but he didn’t want me to close the book either. The story was solid, though, my favorite part was when he tried to return to his tunnel and the guard he expected to give him heck, was supportive and even shared that he too has taken a day off.
Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg is a very interesting story of two ants who decide not to return to the colony and hang out in a sugar bowl eating instead. Of course, nothing is as it seems and they have quite an adventure trying to avoid all the dangers of a kitchen, realizing in the end that being a part of a colony isn’t so bad! This is a cute book for preschoolers who will love trying to guess what each new adventure the ants face really are- they include a toaster, hot coffee, and an electrical outlet.