My son loves math and adding marshmallows into the mix pretty much made this activity one of the highlights of our snow storm fun last week. You don’t have to add the contact paper but by adding it becomes reusable and I was able to quickly make the activity more challenging when my original problems were too simple. If marshmallows are not something you want to use as a manipulative try buttons, packing peanuts or cotton balls.
- Gather your materials. You will need 3 full sheets of construction paper ( backing, cups and strips of hot chocolate), a washable marker, double stick tape, a bunch of mini marshmallows, a white crayon for the steam, scissors, a tray or cookie sheet to keep it all together and a barely damp baby wipe for erasing the marker. I like dollar store cookie sheets because they keep the manipulatives in one place and I can attach the contact paper on top .
- Start by drawing a mug and cutting it out. I then used it as a template for 4 more.
- Tape the mugs down , add a strip of brown to suggest hot chocolate and add some stem with a white crayon.
- Cover with contact paper. Don’t you hate it when you make a ridge in the contact paper , the stuff is too costly to just redo it too. I dream of one day having a laminator….
- Using a washable marker write numbers or basic equations. I started with the ones above but as you will see had to change it to offer more of a challenge. That’s the beauty of the write and wipe surface.
- Add some marshmallows in a bowl and your little learner.
- I quickly changed 3+1 into 3-1 and the 5 into a 5+3 to test the waters.
- Magic of manipulatives- not a problem. Finding just the right level of challenge is a bit of trail and error. My son didn’t think he could do 9-1 but he did. That is the perfect zone when they feel unsure of success but are willing to take a chance and take on the challenge. That is when new connections are being made. This stuff excited me beyond words.
- This is such a great activity because you can wipe it clean and customize it to your needs 2 months from now or right away for another learner.
Not only does this activity entertain your little locksmith to be, it also develops manual dexterity , hand eye coordination , problem solving and memory! That’s a lot for one simple ( and mess free) activity. My son loved it- it was challenging but not frustrating. My advice is if you think your little one is ready, try it if they get frustrated put it away for a while, then try again.
- Gather your materials. I got 3 different lock/ key combos at a discount store, you want them to look different so it’s not too confusing. I also a binder ring for a key chain and a tray to keep the activity in one place.
- Put all three keys onto the ring.
- Lay out the locks and key chain and invite your child to open these locks.
- I helped with the first before I was shooed away by my independent 2 year old.
- “Look mama look! Key in!”