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Activities with Counting Blocks

September 16, 2011



Yesterday I talked about the pack of 18 counting blocks I found in Target's dollar bin for only 30 cents. Well, today I am going to talk about some great math activities you can do with these counting blocks. Let's get started!




The first activity is none other than counting. A child can do several counting activities with these blocks.
  • Rote Counting - count from 1 to 18 - have a child count out all blocks or a specific number of blocks
  • One to One Correspondence - matching numbers to objects - a child shows one block for 1, two blocks for 2, and so on
  • Counting On - have a child count out three blocks, then ask them to add one more, and ask how many they have now (This is a great activity to begin teaching addition.)
  • Color Correspondence/Counting - Ask a child to count out three orange blocks
The next activity is sorting. Have a child sort the blocks by color. Target also has another bag of counting blocks that are different shapes such as hearts, stars, circles, and squares. With that bag you could sort by shape, color, edges, etc.

With these blocks you can also do graphing activities. You can graph the blocks in your bag or use the blocks to graph other objects. You might also want to use the blocks on a graphing sheet. Remember, the other bag of counting blocks Target is selling consists of different shapes, so that bag offers another graphing activity. When graphing make sure to ask questions such as:
  • Which color had the most?
  • Which color had the least?
  • Which colors had the same?
  • And for older students, how many more green blocks are there than yellow blocks? How many red and yellow blocks did I have?
These blocks are also great for building patterns. You can:
  • Build a pattern and have your child/student finish the pattern
  • Have a child build a pattern
  • Have a child copy and continue a pattern
  • Teach repeating patterns (hence the name, the pattern repeats itself)
Teach growing patterns (These are always more difficult for students to both recognize and continue...let's say the first segment of the pattern contains two yellow blocks and one blue block, the next segment of the pattern contains three yellow blocks and one blue block. Students must recognize it is growing by one yellow block each time and that the next segment will be four yellow blocks and one blue block.)Bulleted List
Addition and Subtraction are another great activity to do with these blocks. Begin by having a child/student count out a certain number of blocks, let's say 2. Then ask them to add one block. How many do they have now? You can work your way up to laying blocks out as I have in the picture and asking your child/student to add or subtract them. You might want to lay them out on a dry-erase board or a sheet of paper complete with the addition or subtraction sign and an equal sign to get them ready for more abstract (paper and pencil) math.Of course, one great activity kids will love with these counters is simply building and knocking them over. Believe it or not, this is actually great practice for motor development, which is muscle development. It also builds great thinking skills!

Another activity is building patterns. I apologize for the unfocused photo, but you should be able to see two yellow blocks on the bottom with one green block on top. Teachers and parents can also teach patterns this way by adding a green or yellow block each time and having students determine and continue the pattern.

Memory Games are fun for all ages! For young kids, a teacher or parent can build a block configuration like the one in the photo, show it to a child, then quickly tear it down. A child/student must then build the same configuration from memory! Not only is this a fun activity for all, it also builds great memory and thinking skills. Also, for the younger kids, it might be a good idea to photograph buildings and have a child build the configuration by looking at the photo.

Last but definitely not least, the blocks can also be used for number order and number lines. I taped pieces of paper to the blocks with numbers instead of writing on the blocks themselves so I could change the numbers for different activities.
  • Number Order - Write different numbers on the blocks (begin small at first), mix them up, and ask a child to put them in order. Later on, this is a great opportunity to introduce the terms of least to greatest and greatest to least.
  • Number Lines - Draw a number line, and have your child/student put the blocks on the number line in order from least to greatest or greatest to least. For more of a challenge, leave a spot on the number line blank and see if your child/student can determine what the missing number should be. Many kids struggle with this, and the blocks would make it an enjoyable activity.
If you can't tell, I absolutely love these blocks! Can you think of any other activities to do with these blocks? If so, please share them in the comments sections!

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