Grab Bag Numbers: A Math Game

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What You Need:

  • Index cards
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Paper lunch bag
  • 20–30 pennies, buttons, or small blocks

What You Do:

Prepare: Gather 10 index cards and write a different number, from 1–10, on each. Get your child’s help on this part. When each card has a number, fold it in half and throw it into the lunch bag.

Play: Give your child some pennies to use as counters.(Buttons or small blocks also work well, if your piggy bank is looking a little slim!) Ask your child to close her eyes and pick a card from the grab bag. Once she’s chosen a card, she should open it up, look at the number, and then use her counters to show the quantity written on the card. For example, if your child picks the number 5 from the grab bag, she should place five pennies next to the numeral card.

This game may seem very basic, but it’s actually a pretty big leap for young children to move from simply naming the numbers, to associating them with objects in the physical world. As an added bonus, it makes for a great independent activity when you’ve got a few minutes to fill, and it reinforces one-to-one correspondence, which is just a fancy term for being able to match numeral symbols to their appropriate quantities.

As your child matures, up the grab bag ante with larger numbers, such as 11 to 20. And as she takes her first steps towards reading, make a set of cards that features both numerals and their names.

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