Teacher Mama: Math Exploration Box Part Two– How To Use It

Math Exploration Box Part Two– How To Use It

Recently, Boy Mama Teacher Mama shared a post called, Teacher Mama: Math Exploration Box which describes how to create a math exploration box to use with your child.  Today, we will share some ideas for using the items your box.

BoyMamaTeacherMama: Math Exploration Box


  • Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On by Lois Elhert –Cut out fish shapes and give your child stickers (or paper cut outs) of varying shapes and colors. Have them create their own fish and then count how many of each shape they used.
  • Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews– Give your child a piece of paper and some black dots.  Have him place the dots on a piece of paper and then use those dots to create a picture. For example, three dots on top of each other may become an ice cream cone or two dots might be sunglasses on a face.  If your child is up for it, make your own version of the book using all the numbers from 1-10.
  • Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh– Take out several different size jars and see how many of the same object can fit into each jar. For example, how many golf balls can fit in a big jar, a small jar and a medium size jar?  Use one size jar and different items (preferbly one big item and one small item) and see how many of each can fit in the jar.  Fill a jar with something like golf balls or tennis balls and have your child guess how many are in the jar. Keep in mind your child’s knowledge of numbers when doing this, filling the jar with popcorn kernels or jelly beans is not age appropriate.
  • Construction Countdown by KC Olson– Fill up a baking pan with sand and add in 10 different construction vehicles.  Together count how many vehicles there are and then take one out at a time and count backward.
  • Ten Apples Up on Top by Theo LeSieg– This activity is a favorite of mine. Read the book and then take a picture of your child standing up.  Place apple stickers above  his head in the picture and count how many apples there are. Then write the sentence, “________ apples up on top.”  Fill in the appropriate the number. Do this several times and you have your own book!
Gather some counters (blocks, cotton balls, beans etc.)  and try a few of these ideas.
  • Roll and Count: Roll a die and count out that many counters.
  • Roll and Count Challenge: Roll a die, count out that many counters then roll again and take that many away- beware of those negative numbers! 🙂
  • Take a Handful: Have your child close his eyes and grab a handful (or finger-ful) of counters then count how many grabbed. You can try this with a spoon as well!
  • Sort: Sort your counters by color, size, shape or other attribute. See what attribute your child comes up with- he may surprise you!
  • Sort and Count: Sort your counters then count how many of each.
  • One to Ten: Write the numbers 1-10 on a piece of paper (leave space between each number).  Have your child put on counter on each number as you count from one to ten. OR have your child put one counter on the number one, two counters on the number 2 etc.


See our post, Teacher Mama: Creating Your Own Dice for Learning.


  • Sort: Shapes can be sorted by all sorts of different attributes from color to ones with points (aka angles) and ones without, shapes with sides and shapes without or shapes with certain number of sides (3, 4, 5 etc.)
  • Draw: Have fun drawing shapes- both real and made up. Don’t be afraid to use the words like angles, corners and sides. Kids love big words!
  • Name:  Practice naming the shapes
  • Match: Create a second set of shapes, but with different sizes and have your child match the shapes that are the same. For example the big circle and the small circle.
  • Shape Hunt: Give your child a shape and have them find something in the room that is that shape. For example, if you give your child a circle, he may find a ball or a clock.
  • Create a Shape with Shapes: Cut out a bunch of shapes from paper and have your child create a picture.  Below my son created a robot. We also created a whole city using shapes!


  • Exploration: Measuring tools are perfect for exploration.  Use them with water, sand, flour, cornstarch, snow– anything you can find.
  • Rulers: Show your child how to measure using a ruler.
  • Non-Standard Measurement: Try measuring with a non-standard measuring unit such as blocks or straws or spoons. See how many spoons tall your son is or how many straws long his bed is.   For example, the table in the picture below is about 3 straws long.
  • Cook and bake together!


  • Free exploration is enough with a stencils. Show your child how to use it and then let him guide you.


  • Match: Match real coins to the paper ones.
  • Name a Coin: Show your child a coin and have him name it.
  • Play: Play store, coffee shop or grocery store and practice paying. Don’t worry about the value of coins or the amounts. Just have fun picking out items and “paying” for them.”
  • Sort: Sort coins by size or kind


  • Free exploration is enough with a calculator. Let your child guide you with this one.


  • Car Ride: Grab a small car and drive along the number line. Count as you go.
  • Be the Teacher: Be a teacher and give your child a pointer and have him point to each number as he counts.
  • Hopping Along the Number Line: Use a plastic animal like a bunny or kangaroo and have your child “hop” from number to number. Don’t forget to hop backward and count as you go.

© Boy Mama Teacher Mama 2012

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5 thoughts on “Teacher Mama: Math Exploration Box Part Two– How To Use It

  1. Definitely going to use some of these with first graders in our public Elementary school to review number sense concepts. Thank you! Such creative use of materials!

  2. Pingback: Teacher Mama: Number Line Fun | Boy Mama Teacher Mama

  3. Pingback: Teacher Mama: Number Line Fun | Boy Mama Teacher Mama

  4. Excellent list, instructions and organisation. Thanks for sharing. Will try it for my 2.5 year old daughter over the coming weeks. Keep up the good job. You inspired me. Thanks again.

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