Ten Ways to Learn with Cardboard Boxes

building with boxes

If you can learn with cans, why not boxes?  We collected empty cardboard boxes for a few weeks to make “box blocks.”  For boxes that didn’t close on their own, I taped them shut.  The kids really got excited about adding to our box collection.  And we were able to see just how many boxes our family uses…and have a talk about the importance of recycling!  That is a learning experience in itself, but here are some other things you can teach with boxes…

learning with boxes

Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

  1. Colors- Talk about the different colors on the boxes, then divide them into groups or make a rainbow.
  2. Size- Compare sizes of boxes.  Put them in order from smallest to biggest.
  3. Counting– How many boxes in all?  Count how many you can stack in a tower.
  4. Addition and Subtraction– How many cereal boxes plus fruit snack boxes do we have? (first grade- Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction)
  5. Geometry- Talk about 2D vs 3D.  Use the word rectangular prism.  How many rectangles make up a box?   (kindergarten- Identify shapes as two-dimensional or three-dimensional)
  6. Measurement- Use a ruler to measure boxes length, width, and depth. (second grade- Measure and estimate lengths in standard units)
  7. Classification- Sort the boxes into groups based on color, size, or type of food.   (kindergarten- Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count)
  8. Reading– Beginning readers might be able to read some of the labels using the picture as a clue.  If they know it is a pizza box, see if they can pick out the word “pizza.”
  9. Letters- Try to make letters or even words out of the small boxes.
  10. Creative building– Design your own sculpture with box blocks!

Or combine all the above into a scavenger hunt.  Scatter the boxes around the room and then shout out things to find.  “Find a green box and bring it to me.  Which box would we use to eat breakfast?  Find the largest box.  Can you find the letter T on a box?”  This is great way to get kids moving and learning at the same time.

cardboard box horse
cardboard box scultpure

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Balloon Number Line

What can you do with leftover birthday balloons?  How about make a number line?  This is an easy game that gets kids moving and works on math skills, too.

  1. Write numbers 1-10 on ten balloons with a sharpie.  (I also wrote some letters to see if my three-year-old knew the difference between numbers and letters.)
  2. Scatter the balloons around your backyard or around your house.
  3. Ready, set, RUN and get a balloon!
  4. Bring it back to a central location to make a number line.  Ask questions to help little kids figure out where to place their balloon.  Should 10 be on the left or right?  Is 3 before or after 4?  Should 8 be closer to 1 or 10?

Variations for older kids:

  • Write numbers 1-20
  • Skip count by 2’s, 5’s, or 10’s
  • Write random numbers 1-100

backyard number balloon game

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Common Core Standard

(kindergarten- Know number names and count sequence)

Rooster’s Off to See the World- Activities

Rooster's off to see the world activitiesRooster’s Off to See the World by Eric Carle is a second-grade reading level book.  It is a wonderful read aloud to younger kids, especially when read with other Eric Carle favorites.  It tells the story of a rooster who wants to travel and asks several animals to come along with him.

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

  • Practice math- Do verbal or written story problems following along with the story.  1 rooster + 2 cats+ 2 frogs+ 4 turtles+ 5 fish = how many animals in all?  When the animals leave, write the subtraction problems.  (first grade- Solve word problems that call for addition of three whole numbers whose sum is less than or equal to 20)
  • Read with voice- This book makes a great read aloud.  Try out different voices for each of the animals.  Pay attention to words the author uses such as purred, snapped, or complained.  (second grade-Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.)
  • Alternatives to said– This activity goes along with reading with voice.  Make a list of all the words used instead of “said.”  Talk about why the author used these different words.  See if your child can use some of the new words in her writing.
  • Act it out- Use puppets or yourself to act out the story.  Maybe you could be the rooster and your child play the part of the other animals.
  • Write the sequel– The story ends with rooster dreaming about a trip around the world.  Where would he go?  What would he do?  Have your child make up the rest of the story and you can write it down.
  • Text to self connection- Ask your child to explain when he has felt like the characters in the story- excited for a trip, lonely, or homesick.  (first grade- Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly)

Number Memory Game

I loved playing Memory (or Concentration) when I was growing up.  If you are unfamiliar with the game, all of the cards are face down on a table and you take turns turning over a two at a time to get a match.  It’s a great game for improving (you guessed it) memory. We have a few different versions, but I thought it would be fun to make our number game to work on math skills.

DIY math Memory Game

  1. Use notecards or cut cardstock to make twenty cards.
  2. Have your child write the numbers 1-10 on ten cards.
  3. Have your child put stickers on the other ten cards.  One sticker on the first card, two on the next, and so on.
  4. Play Memory by matching up numerals with the correct number of stickers.

number Memory game

 

Common Core Standards

(kindergarten- Write numbers from 0-20)

(kindergarten- Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; connect counting to cardinality)

(kindergarten- Understand that the last number name said tells the number of objects counted.  The number of objects is the same regardless of their arrangement or the order in which they were counted)

Make a Number Activity

how many ways can you write a number

How many ways can you write a number?  I did this activity with my second grade students, but it would work for a wide range of ages.  Kindergartners can practice writing math facts, words, and pictures to show a number.   Older elementary kids can show off their math skills by doing multiplication, adding decimals, or fractions.  How do you play? Just pick a number and then take turns writing different ways to show the number.  All you need is a pen and paper, so it is easy to do while you are waiting at a restaurant or office.

See if you can write the number using…

  • words
  • pictures
  • Roman numerals
  • addition
  • subtraction
  • multiplication
  • division
  • fractions
  • decimals
  • money
  • time

Bowling Math

learning with bowling

Bowling is a fun indoor activity when it is too cold or hot outside.  We found a local bowling alley with a weekly special for preschoolers ($3 that includes one game, shoes, and a drink).  Though, even the smallest bowling balls are pretty heavy for little ones, so I recommend it for kids over 3.  Big Sis has a great time bowling, and it is educational, too!  Playing a sport is always a learning experience in my book.  But the bowling alley is also a wonderful place to practice math in the real world.  Old school bowling provided lots of math practice when you kept score with a pen and paper.  Yet, even with today’s bowling alley computers keeping score, you can still ask your kiddo some math questions.  Then just look up at the screen to check the answer!

teaching math with bowling

You can ask about…

  • Counting-  Count how many pins are still standing. (kindergarten- Count to tell the number of objects)
  • Make a ten- You started with 10 pins.  Now there are 6 pins standing.  How many did you knock down?  What number plus 6 makes 10?  (kindergarten- For any number from 1 to 9, find the number that makes 10 when added to the given number)
  • Simple addition-  You knocked down 2 pins last turn and 3 pins this time.  How many did you get in all?
  • Two-digit plus one-digit addition–  Your score was 33, then you knocked 5 more down this turn.  What is your score now? (first grade- Add within 100, including adding a two-digit number and a one-digit number…)
  • Subtraction– There were 10 pins and you knocked down 5.  What is 10-5?  (kindergarten- Add and subtract within 10)
  • Relationship between addition and subtraction-  There were ten pins and I see 2 still standing.  How many did you knock down?  You can think about it as “what number plus 2 equals 10?” Or you can think “10-2=?”  (first grade- Understand subtraction as an unknown-addend problem)

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

bowling math

And if you can’t go to a real bowling alley, maybe try some bowling on the computer with Starfall.com or bowl at home using this print out from whattheteacherwants.blogspot.com

CANstruction- Learning with Cans

Our local food pantry, Harvesters, does a yearly competition where businesses build structures out of cans.  Then when the competition is over, all the cans are donated to Harvesters to feed those in need.  The designs are on display at the mall for about a month.

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IMG_4765We got inspired to make our own CANstruction at home!  Can you tell what we made?  (ha- unintentionally pun)

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Did you guess?  It was a giraffe, rainbow, and castle.  Constructing with cans was free, fun, and (bonus!) I had an organized pantry when we were all done.  It would be a great activity for the kids while you put away groceries.  And of course there is all sorts of learning that can be done with cans…

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

  • Colors- Talk about the different colors on the cans, then divide them into groups or make a rainbow.
  • Size- Compare sizes of cans.  Find all the cans that are the same size.  What happens when you stack a large can on a small one?
  • Counting– How many cans in all?  Count how many you can stack in a tower.
  • Addition and Subtraction– How many bean cans plus tuna cans do we have? (first grade- Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction)
  • Geometry- Talk about 2D vs 3D.  Use the word cylinder.  Point out the circles on top and bottom of a cylinder.   (kindergarten- Identify shapes as two-dimensional or three-dimensional)
  • Measurement–  Measure things around the room with cans.  How many cans long is the couch?  (first grade- Express the length of an object as a whole number of length units, by laying multiple copies of a shorter object end to end)
  • Classification- Sort the cans into groups based on color, size, or type of food.   (kindergarten- Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count)
  • Reading– Beginning readers might be able to read some of the labels using the picture as a clue.  If they know it is a can of corn, see if they can pick out the word “corn” on the can.
  • Letters- Try to make letters or even words out of the cans.
  • Creative building– And the most fun, building!