Teacher Mama: Tallies

Tallies are so great for so many reasons. They are handy, helpful and fun. Kids love tallying because it’s something mom and dad do.  Here are some fun ways to play with tallies with your child.

CAUTION: Before playing with tallies be sure your child understands a few basics about tallies–

  • Tallies are straight lines and each line represents one thing (a point in a game, a green m&m etc).
  • Four tallies can stand alone, but once you have five tallies they become a bundle or group of five .               

Tally Games

m&ms Tally:  Give your child about 10-15 m&ms. Have him sort the candy by color directly onto the paper then, remove one piece at a time and put a tally mark in its place. As he gets better with tallies, he can simply count the number of objects and tally without sorting on the paper first.

Lego Tally: I took a few steering wheels, seats and levers from my son’s Lego box. He sorted and counted them and then tallied them.  I had him write the number of each item at the bottom of each box so he wouldn’t forget how many he counted. This is helpful especially with bigger numbers.

Dice Roll Tally: Grab a die, a pencil and a paper (like below) for recording tallies. The first player rolls the die and puts a tally in the box for the number rolled.  The next player does the same.  When you are done playing (your call!), count how many times each number on the die came up. Record the answer in each box.  This is a great introduction to probability…. :)

Favorite Toy Tally: My son and I decided we would gather his stuffed animals together and tally how many of each animal he had.  We had a lot of fun doing this and discovered that he has a lot of birds.

Collection Tally: Does your child has a collection of something? My son collects Mini Coopers.  We tallied up how many of each color he has. Turns out he has mostly blue Minis.

Family Favorites Tally: Pick a catagory such as favorite outdoor activities or favorite desserts. Create a chart like below and have your child survey the members of the family.  Put a tally mark in the appropriate box, count up the tallies and see which is the most popular.

On the Go Tallies:  A great thing about tallying is that all you really need is a piece of paper and a pencil.  If you have a long road trip ahead of you or a trip to the doctor’s office where you will be waiting a bit, bring along some blank paper and a pencil and tally up somethings you see around you. For example, colors of cars, number of stop/do not enter/one way signs, Mcdonalds/Starbucks/KFC, parking lots/playgrounds/open fields, fire engines/ambulances/police cars and so on.


email stephanie@boymamateachermama.com and we will send one along.

Literature Connection:  Ready Tally O’Malley by Stuart Murphy

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3 thoughts on “Teacher Mama: Tallies

  1. Pingback: Boy Mama: 23 Uses for Cash Register Tape | Boy Mama Teacher Mama

  2. Great idea! My son often pretends that he can’t count (power struggle/control exertion). I think he will love this – and put my mind at ease that he does not really believe that 3 comes after 6 (no matter how hilarious he may find it).

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