Early Math Activities for Kids

I really love activities that develop math skills! Especially activities that encourage number recognition, counting skills, subitising and 1:1 correspondence. The activities that I describe here are perfect for developing all of these early numeracy skills. And best of all, you probably have everything you need to play at home already!

These activities are actually an extension of a recent blog article I posted entitled “Build A City.” You may have read it already? As well as working on the early math skills I listed above, these activities also introduce some simple addition and subtraction principles.

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This is what you will need:

Printed copy of the downloadable files

Lego, duplo bricks or building blocks

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Build a Tower

For this first activity, simply print out the “Build a Tower” file – you will find a link at the end of this paragraph. Then build a tower, stacking the number of bricks or blocks in each square. You will notice that the squares on the page are at different angles. This encourages your child to manipulate the angle of their tower on the page. This manipulation of angle is great for developing fine motor skills.

Here are the files that you will need. There is a black and white one, where you can match any color bricks to the squares, and a colored file. For this one, you can match colored bricks to each square.

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Add a Tower

You will get to practice some easy addition in this activity. Begin by printing out the downloadable file – again, you will find this file at the end of the paragraph. Then simply add the blocks together to build the towers.

Here is the file that you will need:

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Subtract a Tower

You guessed it! This next activity is subtract a tower. Start by printing the downloadable file and then substract the blocks. Place the resulting stack onto the corresponding square.

Here is the file that you will need:

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I really hope that you enjoy building these towers! Enjoy! Jacinta Xx

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Halloween Number Match for Kids

I first posted this super easy activity a couple of months back as a fun way for kids to practice their early number skills. The idea is to simply match the corresponding number of sticker or googly eyes to each number. This activity is perfect for practicing number recognition, number order, 1:1 correspondence and subitising skills.

Once you match the stickers to the numbers, it kind of makes the numbers look like monsters! So come October, this activity will be a super fun Halloween game too.

I have used stickers in the above pictures to label each number, but you can also use googly eyes! You can even use the googly eyes like counters, rather than gluing them down, so that you can play over and over again.

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This is what you will need:

Copy of the FREE printable file

Stickers or googly eyes

White school glue (optional)

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This is what you will need to do:

1. Print the free downloadable file.

2. You can now play any way that you like! You can use googly eyes to decorate your numbers, either gluing them down, or if you would like to use your print out over and over, simply use the googly eyes like counters. That way you can move them into place, and then clear them away.

!WARNING: Remember that googly eyes are a choking hazard. Always closely supervise your children and never give googly eyes to mouthing babies to play with!

3. I used some fun sticker eyes that we had at home to label the pictures that I posted over on Instagram. If you don’t have these stickers, you could try drawing some eyes with chalk or a white gel pen.

And that’s it! A really fun and super easy activity to play with your children or students this Halloween.

Before I forget, here is the FREE printable:

Thank you for reading. Jacinta Xx

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DIY Rocket Launch for Kids

Here is a super easy science craft for kids. These rocket launches are actually amazing! And, all you will need to make one is two paper cups, two elastic bands and a pair of scissors. Then if you like, you can add some extra construction paper decorations to turn one of the cups into a rocket, but this is not essential. The launch will work with plain, undecorated cups too.

This craft is perfect for kids of all ages. Preschoolers will be amazed playing around with these, while older children can use them to help explain important physics principles such as force, mass and acceleration.

This is what you will need:

2 paper cups

2 elastic bands

Scissors

If you would like to make a rocket, you will also need:

Colored construction paper

Tissue paper

Tape

(You can see that I also put some aluminum foil in the picture. We didn’t use this in the end – it was really hard to wrap around the cup securely. By all means use it if you would like though!)

This is what you will need to do:

  1. Make 4 snips in the cup. Then, snip each elastic band once to form a long piece of elastic.

2. Attach the two elastic bands to the cup. The trick here is to not pull the elastics too tight. You want to retain the original shape of the cup, or as close to it as possible.

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3. Tie each end of the elastic band to secure. Trim any excess elastic.

4. You can now launch your paper cup! To do this, place your unaltered cup upside down on a flat surface. Then gently press the elastic bands on your second cup down on top. Let go and watch the cup fly.

5. If you would like to turn you cup into a rocket, tape some strips of colored tissue paper to the inside of the cup.

6. Then cut some pieces of colored construction paper to decorate the body of the rocket. I added two windows and some fins. But you can decorate your rocket any way that you like. You might like to add your name or even a nose cone! Just be careful not to make it too heavy. Heavy cups won’t launch very high!

7. Once you have decorated your rocket. Press it onto the launch cup, let it go and watch it fly!

I hope you have making your own rocket launcher. Jacinta Xx

Times Tables Games for Kids

There are so many fun games that you can play to help your kids learn their times tables. These times tables wheels are one of our favorite ways to play and learn. They are great as they allow for both memorization and self correction. Children can play and learn on their own or in groups in a classroom. And, you can answer the times tables as you go around the wheel or pick and choose each multiplication sum at random. There are so many fun ways to play!

Times table wheels are so easy to make! And once you have made a set, you can use them over and over again for lots of learning fun.

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This is what you will need:

Print out of the times tables wheel file

Colored construction paper

Scissors

Glue

This is what you will need to do:

1. Print out the times tables wheel file. You will find the file here:

2. Cut around the perimeter of the circle and snip along the lines to the center circle to separate each number. Fold the sections back.

3. Paste the wheel down onto a colored piece of paper. Make sure that you only glue the center of the circle to the paper. You will need the snipped sections to be free so that you can fold them back to reveal your multiplication answers.

4. Write the answers to each sum under the folded pieces of paper.

5. Play!

I hope this makes learning times tables in your house more fun! Enjoy! Jacinta Xx

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Phases of the Moon for Kids

Our kids are really interested in astronomy and all things space at the moment! So we made this cute and super simple space craft for them to help learn about the phases of the Moon.

When you look at the night sky, have you ever noticed that the Moon appears to be a different shape each night? In actual fact, the shape of the Moon doesn’t actually change, but rather how much of the Moon that we see from earth changes. These shape changes are called the phases of the Moon.

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The shining Moon that we see each night is caused by the Sun’s light reflecting off the Moon’s surface, as the Moon itself doesn’t actually give or emit any light. As the Moon orbits the Earth, the Sun lights up different parts of it.

When the Moon looks as though it is getting bigger, it’s called a ‘waxing’ Moon and when it appears to be getting smaller, it’s called a ‘waning’ Moon. When the entire face of the Moon that we see from Earth is fully turned towards the sun and illuminated, its called a Full Moon. As the Moon continues its orbit around the Earth, the face pointing towards us gradually becomes hidden from the sun and we can hardly see it at all. This is called a New Moon. Each phase of the moon is thought to be seen every 29.5 days.

There are 8 phases of the Moon. You will find them summarized in this document:

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You may have also heard of the term ‘Blue Moon’ which is used to describe a second full moon in one calendar month, and a ‘Super Moon’ which is a Full Moon or a New Moon that occurs when the Moon orbits at its closest distance to Earth. Super Moons appear slightly larger in size than a normal Full Moon.

I didn’t take the best pictures of this activity sorry! We were having so much fun working together that we forgot all about the camera 🙂

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This is what you will need:

Black cardstock

White paint

Paintbrush

Scissors

Tape

Print out of the moon

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This is what you will need to do:

1. Cut a circle shape from the card and flick some white paint onto the card with a paintbrush. These flicks of white paint will represent the stars in the sky. I don’t have a picture with just the circle cut out I’m sorry – you will have to imagine this step. Then, print out a picture of the moon and tape to the back of the black card. (I simply googled the term ‘Moon’ and then cut and paste my favorite picture that I found into a word document before printing to size).

2. Use tape to secure the top and the bottom of the picture, but leave the sides of the picture unattached. We used black tape to secure our picture so it’s a little difficult to see.

3. Next, take a second piece of card and cut a curve around one edge.

4. Thread the curved card through the side opening in between the paper and the card frame.

5. Pull the card across to the right to make the different phases of the moon.

You can also flip the card around to make the phases on the other side of the moon – if that makes sense!

Here is a template that you can cut and assemble to make your own phases of the moon diorama.

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Bubblegum Art

I posted this activity over on my Instagram a couple of weeks back and wow was it popular! The girls and I had been home and were bored, so we searched through Pinterest for a fun art activity to try together. We stumbled across a similar activity and instantly knew that it would be fun!

Here is how we put our own little spin on this fun art activity.

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This is what you will need:

White A4 paper

Cardstock

Black marker pen

Coloured markers, pencils or crayons

Scissors

Balloon

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This is what you will need to do:

1. Draw a face with black marker pen onto a piece of white paper.

2. Color the picture.

3. Add a pattern to the background and lots more color. We pasted some confetti onto the cheeks!

4. At this point, paste your picture down onto some card. You don’t have to do this, but the paper on its own might be a little flimsy to hold when you are blowing your balloon.

5. Use your scissors to make a small hole where the mouth would be. Remember that scissors are sharp. Always be careful when using scissors and closely supervise children using scissors.

5. Gently press the balloon through the hole.

6. Blow the balloon up!

Thanks so much for reading! If you have any comment or questions, pop them below and I will get back to you. Jacinta Xx

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If you would like to make a girl balloon art, here’s a template:

If you would like to make a boy balloon art, here’s a template:

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Flower Science

I love this pretty flower activity! It’s super easy and inexpensive to put together, but resulted in so much fun and learning for my girls!

A couple of weeks ago we went for a walk together around our neighborhood, picking flowers that were growing on the nature strips – we didn’t pick any flowers from peoples gardens! It was actually nearing the end of winter, so we were really surprised to find so many beautiful, bright colored flowers growing.

Once we were home, we placed the flowers into an over sized ice cube tray, filled the tray with water and popped them into the freezer. To be totally honest, that’s where they sat for the next couple of weeks! But, we finally pulled them out yesterday and had the best time with them.

We used solutions of warm water (with a small amount of purple food dye added) and salt to melt the blocks. We talked about melting points and the patterns that we could make in the ice with the salt. We also noted how the flowers looked different on thawing than they did before we froze them! All great scientific observations.

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Here is what you will need:

Flowers

Ice cube tray

Water

Plastic pipettes or squeeze bottles

Salt

Food coloring

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Here is what you will need to do:

1. Pick some flowers. You might find these in your garden or in your neighborhood. Remember that if you are going to walk your neighborhood, make sure that an adult is present and that you watch for traffic when crossing roads.

2. Place your flowers into the ice cube tray.

3. Fill the tray with water. You will notice that the flowers float to the top of the ice cube tray wells.

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4. Pop the ice cube tray into the freezer. It will probably take overnight to freeze – especially if you are using similar trays to ours.

5. Place the frozen blocks onto a tray. Pour a small amount of warm water into the tray. We colored our water with a drop of purple food dye.

6. Take your pipette and drop the water over the ice blocks. Keep dropping until you see your ice blocks start to disappear. You can also sprinkle some salt over the ice blocks to speed up the thawing process.

7. If you don’t have a plastic pipette, you can also use squeeze or spray bottles to transfer the water. It’s totally up to you!

8. And this activity is a fun one to do outside! Take your tray out into a warm sunny spot and experiment further. This also makes clean up simple!

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The Science:

Have you ever wondered why salt makes ice melt faster? The answer is actually really simple. Salt lowers the melting point of the water, meaning it will thaw at a lower temperature. The more salt that you add, the faster the ice will melt.

Thank you so much for reading! If you have any questions pop them in the comments section below. Jacinta Xx

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Here is a fun FREE printable for you! It is a fun number matching game.

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Bee Scissor Skills

This scissor skill activity is one of my favorites. The bees are super easy to put together, and are a great tool for developing scissor skills in kids. And if you don’t like the idea of cutting through the adorable bees, I have included a FREE printable for you that doesn’t involve snipping through any of these cute little guys.

This is what you will need:

Colored construction paper

Pencil

Scissors

Glue stick or tape

Black marker pen

Googly eyes

!WARNING! Remember that scissors are sharp. Adults should always closely supervise children when they are using scissors.

This is what you will need to do:

1. Trace a circle shape onto the yellow paper with pencil. You might like to go on a shape hunt around your home to find the perfect size circle to trace. Think drinking glasses or cups, small containers and side plates.

2. Next, cut the circles out with scissors.

3. Cut some wings for your bees from light blue paper. I drew little heart shapes and then cut them out. While you have the scissors out, cut a small triangle shaped stinger from black paper.

4. Attach the wings and the stinger to the back of the bees with tape or glue.

5. Turn the bees over and draw line patterns on the bees with black marker pen. Try drawing dotted lines, zig-zag and curly lines. Finish your bees with a smiley face and glue down a googly eye.

6. Now you are ready to start cutting! Cut carefully along the lines with scissors.

If you don’t like the idea of cutting through the bees, here is another fun scissor skill activity for you.

If you don’t have the time to make these bees, here is a fun printable that is similar.

And if you would like read to more about developing scissor skills in your children, have a look at the post I published a couple of days ago. There are so many ideas there for you. Thanks for reading! Jacinta Xx

Days of The Week Peg Board

Remote learning this school term has meant that our days have started to blend into one another. As one of my friends said to me, “I put the bins out on Tuesday thinking it was Wednesday. Then had to go and find my phone later that day to see what day it actually was as the bins didn’t get emptied!” This made me laugh – and feel better that we had lost track of the days in lockdown too!

To help better keep track of our days, we turned a piece of recycled card into this colorful weekly calendar. These peg board calendars are super easy to put together, look amazing and because they are made from recycled card and paper, they are inexpensive to make. These calendars will help children learn the days of the week and their order, and you can also use them to keep track of after school activities and the weather.

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This is what you will need:

Piece of recycled card

Strips of colored paper

Scissors

Glue stick

Tape

Black marker pen

Pegs

Printed labels and weather symbols

Small piece of black cardstock

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This is what you will need to do:

1. Cut strips of colored paper. You will need seven equally sized strips of paper – one for each day of the week.

2. Use a glue stick (or glue of your choice) and paste the strips along the length of the card. Keep pasting until you have your seven strips attached. If there is any card left uncovered, simply trim away the excess.

3. Flip the card over and fold the excess paper to the back. Secure the ends to the card with glue or tape – just like the example with the blue paper below.

The finished card will look a little like this from the back. As you can see, the card does not need to be in perfect condition. The colored paper will cover any rips and tears in the card!

4. Next, label each day of the week. I used my Cricut to cut the letters and then glued them down. You could just as easily use a black marker pen to label the days. We started with Monday as our first day of the week, but feel free to start with Sunday if you would prefer.

5. The next thing to do is prepare the labels for your pegs. To do this, you can write the labels onto a piece of white paper, type and print them out – or use the free printable download below. It’s up to you! Once you have the labels prepared, paste them down onto a piece of black paper and trim. Attach them to your pegs.

Here is the Icon printable download

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6. Now start pegging and labeling your days.

Thanks so much for reading this article! I hope you get a chance to make your own colorful days of the week peg calendar. Jacinta Xx

Here is a free printable days of the week board. It is a PDF set to the size of an A4 sheet of paper. It might be helpful in getting you started!

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If you want your board to start on Monday, here is the printable for you!

If you would like your board to start on Sunday, here is the printable for you!

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Scissor Skills – How to teach kids to safely use scissors.

Learning how to use scissors with ease and accuracy is a really important lesson for children. In this post, I have collated my ten most favorite ways to practice scissor skills. These activities are all super easy to put together and are lots of fun for kids to practice and master.

You will only require 3 materials for each of these activities! Yep 3, that’s all!

1 Scissors: We like to use specialized children’s scissors (with a metal blade) for cutting and snipping. These scissors are readily available at craft, department and stationary stores. The neat thing about children’s scissors is that they have a safety blade and a blunt tip, which protect little fingers from getting hurt. They’re also light in weight and the correct size for little hands. Big, heavy scissors are going to be difficult for children to manoeuver and control. I suggest avoiding plastic scissors, as they often don’t actually cut the paper. This frustrates children and discourages them from practicing and mastering their scissors skills. It is ultimately up to you though, which scissors you feel comfortable allowing your children to use.

2 Paper: You can use any paper that you like for your cutting and snipping activities. In most of the activities that I present in this article, I have used off cuts and scraps of colored paper. When possible, I also try to use a light cardstock. It’s a little bit heavier than paper, so it doesn’t flop around as much, making it easier for children to hold.

3 Marker pen: I use a black marker pen to mark the lines on the paper pieces. Start by marking long solid lines for your children to follow with scissors. Once your child has mastered following the solid lines, you can move to dotted or dashed lines to increase the difficulty.

!WARNING! Before presenting the activities, it is important to remember that scissors are sharp! It is always a great idea to remind children at the beginning of each lesson or activity that scissors can be dangerous when not used correctly. And of course, adults should always closely supervise children when using scissors.

Here are a couple of rules that I like to remind my kids before using scissors:

  1. Scissors are for cutting paper only – not clothing, hair or fingers!
  2. Encourage small snipping movements where your child moves the paper around the scissors, not big clunky movements.
  3. And of course scissors should always point away from the body and only be used while stationary. Children shouldn’t walk around with scissors. If they must, remind children to secure the blades within the palms of their hands and to pass them via the handles.

You might have your own house rules for using scissors that you would like to add to your own scissor safety list.

Using scissors is tricky, so don’t worry if your child’s work appears messy at first. Your child will progress at their own pace. By preparing fun and colorful activities for them, they will be happy to practice and get better and better.

Here is the list of my 10 most favourite activities for increasing scissor skills.

1. Beginner scissor pattern with sticky marker dots: I love this super easy to set up scissor practice activity. These are off cuts of colored paper that I had at home. I drew different shaped lines on them with marker pen and then labelled with sticker dots to show where little fingers need to be positioned for safe cutting. If you do not have sticker dots, you can simply draw the dots with marker pen. That will work just as well! Just remember that some of the lines shown, such as the swirly line, can be quite difficult to cut for beginners. Practise straight lines first and then introduce harder lines to follow and cut.

2. Trace and cut patterns: I love that you set this activity up once, but two skills are learned and practiced! To play simply draw out some dashed line patterns onto strips of paper. Then ask your child to trace the lines. You will see that I added the hearts to one side of the paper. This gives the activity direction. You can trace towards the hearts or away – whatever direction your child chooses. Tracing lines is a great pre-writing skill and helps strengthen the little muscles in your child’s fingers. Once the lines have been traced, ask your child to cut along the lines. It’s lots of fun!

3. Advanced cutting activities: Once your child has mastered snipping and cutting in a straight line, you can move to more difficult cutting patterns. These activities are just as simple to set up! For more advanced cutting activities you will just have to think of more challenging lines for your child to cut along. Think curved and zig-zag lines, and even intersecting lines. These activities will not only challenge scissor skills but will also challenge their strategic and creative thinking skills.

4. Paper bag haircuts: this activity also doubles as a fun art and craft activity and is a cute way to decorate a simple brown paper lunch bag. Start by decorating the front of the paper bag with a cute smiley face. Then take your scissors and snip some hair across the top of the bag. Your child can either cut through the two layers of the bag together or individually. Let them think about the best strategy to successfully make the cuts.

5. Cutting with direction: For this activity, simply draw some patterns on scraps of paper with marker pens and then give the lines direction by adding little arrow heads at the end of the lines. Then ask you children to cut the lines in the direction that the arrow is pointing. You can draw straight lines for beginners and curved lines and even circles for older children with more developed scissor skills.

6. Spring time trace and cut: you can always theme your cutting activities to your child’s interests! To make this flowery activity, draw some flowers onto squares or paper. You can then either cut along these lines directly, or ask your child to trace over the lines before cutting. Again, tracing along the lines is great pre-writing practice. As I mentioned above, cutting the curved lines can be tricky, so make sure that you work up to this activity. You do not want your child getting frustrated or disappointed if the activity is way too difficult for them.

7. Meet in the middle: this scissor skill lesson is a great collaborative activity that we like to call “meet in the middle.” It’s perfect for siblings and small groups in the classroom. To play, we taped strips of colored paper together, ruled cutting lines and marked the midline with a star shaped sticker – again, if you don’t have stickers, mark the middle with marker pen. Then use your scissors to cut along the ruled lines and “meet in the middle.” Remember that this activity is not a race! It’s about cutting accurately along the straight lines and stopping once you reach the midline.

8. Curly rainbows: this is one of my most favorite Instagram posts ever! As well as providing a lovely scissor practice opportunity, it also results in a beautiful, happy art piece. To put this activity together, simply draw some clouds on a piece of white paper and ask your child to cut around the outline with scissors. Then ask them to cut strips of colored paper. Tape the strips to the back and draw smiley faces onto the clouds. You can either stop there, or if you want some extra fine motor skill practice, curl the paper around a pencil!

9. Cutting shapes: this activity has direction and requires a little more concentration than snipping short straight lines. It also provides a great opportunity to introduce shape and some early geometry principals. To put this activity together, simply cut the shapes from some colored paper. Then draw the lines with marker pen and add some little direction arrows. Finally, ask your children or students to cut along the line. This one is actually quite fun!

10. Cutting puzzles: I love it when you set up an activity that can be used over and over again. This was actually an activity that I put together for my girls in the lead up to Easter, but you could just as easily turn it into a dinosaur egg game and it use it year round. To play, I simply cut out the egg shapes, drew lines on them with marker pen and asked my girls to cut along the lines. We then kept the pieces and used them as puzzles! You can store the pieces in an envelope or bag and then play with them as often as you like.

Here is a FREE printable summary of this article!

What are your favorite ways to practice scissor skills? Have you tried any of these activities?

Thank you so much for reading! If you have any questions pop them in the comments below and I will get back to you. Jacinta Xx