Chalk hopscotch

It has been a wet early spring but finally we have a math session outside.  How I have waited for this!

This was a session where I had too much to do to take pictures, but counting aloud in hopscotch is not an original idea and there are lots of other sources, in particular homeschool blogs, who link this classic game to math.

An example from The Home School Den on

An example from The Home School Den on

The slightly obnoxious but nevertheless educational Let’s Play Today has this video:


Math story: Guji Guji

We read Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen and talked about the story as a math story: How many crocodiles are there and how many ducks? How many stones do they carry to the bridge? Does every duck carry one stone?

Image from Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen.

A math story could be about how many siblings there are if some are ducks and one is really a crocodile. Image from Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen.

I had prepared a number of cut-out cardboard “stones” and could ask, How many stones would the ducks need if they each carried one stone?  I had another set of stones with numerals written on them and we could order them from least to greatest.

I then attempted an extension of this activity in which some of the stones were missing the number but this proved to be too hard for this group and I quickly had to add the number to all stones.

For those who wanted to stay after this, there was coloring of ducks and crocodiles to do.


Skills practiced: Counting, number recognition, ordering.

See the book read aloud by Robert Guillaume in the Story Line project.

Original idea for the story book choice is from the book “Cowboys Count, Monkeys Measure, and Princesses Problem Solve: Building Early Math Skills Through Storybooks” by  Jane Wilburne, Jane Keat and Mary Napoli.

Counting Song: The Ants Go Marching

All the kids in this daycare group can recite the numbers up to five or six.  To practice the sequence of numbers and have fun exploring the what the numbers mean, we sang “The Ants Go Marching”.  I had the verses memorized, a plan to draw an ant per verse, a roll of paper pre-cut and markers ready for the kids.  The rest I left up to the questions they might ask.

We did get through the whole song with some detours.  Another time I would save the drawing until the end.  Some interesting observations included the variation in drawing skills and a, for me, the culture shock of kids not being able to share a large piece of paper.

Daycare math - The Ants Go Marching

Details from the scroll of ants and numerals shared by five children.

The kids explored the numerals as the numbers came up in the song, colored in the numerals and counted the cumulative number of ants as well as drew critters with various numbers of legs.  (We quickly concluded that ants which are insects must have six legs each.)

Roll or individual sheaths of paper
Crayons or markers
Lyrics to “The Ants Go Marching” (link to Youtube)

Further reading
“Many three-year-olds may be able to identify a 3, but they don’t understand what 3 means. It’s important for parents to understand the difference between conceptual learning and skill development,” she says. “Instead of flashcards, look for teachable moments, count things that are familiar to the child as she plays or helps you with simple chores. Counting socks, toy cars, or other toys will maintain her attention and have more meaning for her. Play is learning for three and four-year olds. Follow their interests and create environments that encourage creativity and exploration.”
– Grace Davila Coates, Program Director of Family Math, University of California at Berkeley.

Skills practiced: Counting, number recognition, pre-writing, reasoning.