Math Lesson: Unpack it & Graph it !

I love online shopping. With a handful of small children, you have to love online shopping (because browsing in the stores will make you insane). I never knew what to do with the packing peanuts.

Did you know that when packing peanuts get wet they “melt”?

Here is a fun way to use them to teach your child math. They make quite a perfect fit for counting and graphing. You just need a piece of paper, small bowl with water, a marker, packing peanuts, and glue (not in the picture).

Draw a space and then write the numbers you wish to use. I used 1-5, but this can be a great way to introduce counting by two’s (or anything else).

Have your child dip the ends of the packing peanuts in water. Press the ends together. They will “melt” and fuse to each other. Don’t use too much water or the peanuts will dissolve too much and become mush. You can have your child count out the peanuts as he fuses them together.

Place some glue on the paper and attach the coordinating stack of packing peanuts to the numbers.

The end result is a neat graph that clearly shows which numbers are greater. It is a fun way for children to learn number recognition, counting, graphing, and whatever else you can think of. :-)

The stack in #4 really does have 4 peanuts, but a little too much water was used and one of the peanuts melted down into almost nothing. We still had a great time and learned a lot.

Halloween Math Activities

This month will be filled with Fall and Halloween crafts and themed activities . I had to post this one now so that all of you Target shoppers can get to the dollar spot to buy these Halloween erasers before they are gobbled up. I love using themed mini erasers for learning activities especially as  math manipulatives.

Halloween Graphing


Using manipulatives is a great way to introduce children to graphing. Explain that graphs help us see the answers to questions  . Also take the time to make predictions before graphing , such as which row will have the most , which will have the least?Ask them why? I am always fascinated by the reasons why my son makes certain predictions.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a large piece of white paper, a ruler, markers, some fun Halloween manipulatives, and a plastic jack-o-lantern container.  I think when you try to make everything themed kids get more excited and learn more.
  2. Start by making an easy graph. I used pictures and words to represent our manipulatives, my son is interested in the words but not yet ready to rely only on them.
  3. Grab the manipulatives you are using . I made sure to have 3 different amounts . Pop them in your jack-0-lantern.
  4. Invite your child(costume optional) to the table to start. My son dumped the erasers but taking them out one at a time is great too!
  5. Ask your child to make a prediction – which of the three designs do they think will have the most? Least? Why?
  6. Place them on the graph. 
  7. Keep going!
  8. Just by looking at them which has the most? Least?
  9. Count them to check.

Halloween Patterns


Patterning was one of my favorite preschool math activities to teach. I have found that if you sing song the pattern children have an easier time recognizing the pattern and start using that device themselves when encountered with a pattern they need to continue.

  1. Gather your materials. 2-3 different manipulatives like these Halloween themed erasers in a container, some sentence strips are optional but I like them because they give my son a frame for the pattern. When I simply place the erasers on the table it looks like I expect him to keep the pattern going to the edge of the table and the task seems much more daunting.
  2. Make some simple patterns .
  3. Provide a container and ask your child to keep the pattern going.
  4. If they need help try labeling the pattern out loud . For example saying ” Pumpkin, Bat, Pumpkin, Bat… what comes next?
  5. Keep going, if they are frustrated with the more difficult patterns scrap them and make multiple simpler ones. The goal is success and if it’s too challenging for them they will get frustrated and learning will be minimal.