It’s been three years since I retired, and I know lots of things have changed in Kindergarten. I recently took a look at the core curriculum for Kindergarten math and I realized that children are now expected to enter Kindergarten with some of the skills we worked on in my class. While I was teaching I knew that some children came into kindergarten counting, recognizing numerals, one to one correspondence, able to name shapes, and understanding patterns; but not all children had those skills. While we explored and played games with math manipulatives all children gained confidence and competence in these skills. The math games we played were great practice for early math skills, and the children loved playing them! So when I was thinking about Christmas presents for some preschoolers who are very special to me, I decided to put together some games using Teddy Bear Counters and colored tiles.
I bought sets of Teddy Bear Counters and matching sorting trays from Learning Resources. Here is a peek at the games I put together.
The children I plan to give these to range from 3 to 5 years old. I tried to include a range of things they would think are fun and also help them gain important math skills like sorting, counting, numeral recognition, one to one correspondence, concept of number, simple addition and subtraction, measuring, counting backward, skip counting and concrete graphing. Some games will be just right to play now, others will be good as they get a little older.
I am happy to share these games and activities, most will probably be familiar to any of you early childhood teachers.
Sorting Bears – basically I suggested that parents encourage their child to play with the teddy bears and practice sorting by color. In my class I realized that most children could easily do the task, but sometimes they were not familiar with the word “sort.” I also suggested using comparative language like most, least, and equal or the same.
I found this game board online and thought it would be great to practice counting the dots, and putting the correct number of bears on each gameboard bear.
I suggested starting out with a simple AB pattern. I always introduced an AB pattern by naming the colors: i.e. red, blue, red, blue. But I wanted the children to know that you could use any terms to “read” the pattern, including alphabet letters. After the child shows that he or she understands what a pattern is I suggested moving on to more complicated patterns.
One of the most popular games in my Kindergarten room was BEARS IN CHAIRS. Over the years I had several parents come in to ask where they could buy this game! Basically the children make a pattern with the colored tiles and keep it going to form a shape like a game board. Then they choose one bear, roll a die and move their bear from one chair (tile) to the next as they count to the number they rolled on the die. This game is great for 2 – 4 players, but one child can even play it alone. As children gain confidence with patterns they can make their tile game board more complicated. You could even use 2 dice that they would add together to make the game more challenging.
Jumping on the Bed
For this game I suggested asking the child to count out 10 bear counters and place them on the bed game board. Then you sing the song “Ten Bears in a Bed” and remove one bear at a time.
My Turn, Your Turn
This was another favorite game in my classroom. Two children play using only one game board and sharing one teddy bear counter. They begin by placing the bear on the star in the middle of the board. Then they roll a die, one child moves the bear toward the right side of the board, the other child moves the same bear toward the left side of the board. Play continues until the bear goes off the board in one direction. I made this strip by gluing together 2 of these pattern strips. You could make it as long as you like, but be sure to have an uneven number of squares and put a sticker or mark in the middle.
Bears in Caves
I loved telling math story problems with my Kindergartners. It is so much fun when each child has a set of materials to manipulate as they listen to the story. In my directions I suggested giving each child a small amount of bears and a gameboard. Then I would tell a story and the children would move their bears in and out of the cave, practicing very simple addition and subtraction problems. Check out the directions I am including if you need a suggestion of a story to tell.
In my class we often told stories like this using manipulatives we could eat like goldfish crackers, teddy graham cookies, Froot Loops, etc. At Halloween I could sometimes find Count Chockula cereal with ghosts and goblins that we placed in a simple haunted house. The kids really love these games!
It can be fun for the children to practice measuring by lining up a row of bears to match the length of simple things around the house like a pencil, book or favorite toy.
Bear Counting Game
Using the same bear game board you can play another game. The children take turns rolling a die. They place a bear counter on the gameboard bear that matches the number they roll. If they roll a 6, they place a counter on the bear with 6 dots. You can allow them to keep putting counters on until all the numbers have been rolled, or you can say they can only put one counter on each bear – so if they roll a number that matches a bear that already has a counter they lose a turn. Not all young children are ready to play a game where they lose a turn.
Bear and Crocodile
I was looking online for a simple number line that the children could use to pracitce naming numerals, counting forward and backward, and simple skip counting. I found this cute crocodile number line.
I also included the largest hundreds chart I could make, to give the children a chance to move bears along the numbers, and notice patterns in counting.
I also suggested scooping out bears and sorting them into a graph configuration. It is a good way to compare and practice all those important words like most, least, same.
In my Bear Game Gift Kit I also plan to include some tongs – the kids love using them to pick up things like the bears, and it is great fine motor practice. I got these big ones at a dollar store. The small ones are from Lakeshore.
I ordered a set of these big foam dice from Oriental Trading – they were good and cheap!
In school I always had plastic tiles, but I found the foam ones are a lot less expensive and should work great with kids at home. I ordered mine along with the Teddy Bear Counters from Learning Resources.
Here are the game directions that I made into a booklet to include with these math materials. I hope the kids love them! Maybe you are still thinking of a different kind of gift for a special child you know too!