Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Delivery Math Game {Learning Place Value}

There is no game my girls (3 years old) like more than feeding their 'babies'.  Every math manipulative we've ever played with has become food for stuffed animals.  My kids were delighted when they woke up one morning last week and discovered that all their favorite stuffed animals (as well as Mom and Dad) had placed breakfast orders for miniature pumpkins.  This Pumpkin Delivery math game that I made up was such a big hit at our house at we ended up playing it every day for the entire week.  My kids had so much fun that they didn't realize they were practicing fine motor skills, counting, one-to-one correspondence, number recognition, reading, and even discovering the meaning of place value!  Here's how to play...

This is what the Preschool Activity Tray for the Pumpkin Delivery game looked like.  It includes pumpkin mini-erasers ($1 at target), a paint palette, chopsticks, little plastic baskets, small cardboard delivery box, and orders written on index cards.  You really don't need all these things, but the kids liked the variety, and did some independent play with these items as well.

I invited L and E to select one order to fill.  I explained that each basket should always have 10 pumpkins in it.  We counted the spots in the paint palette (10), and they took turns placing one pumpkin in each spot so they could fill each basket with 10 pumpkins.

Using chopsticks was optional.  Here is the part where they learn about place values.  I'm not sure how much my kids (at 38 months old) really absorbed, but we went through the exercise anyway, because at some point it will click..

If you take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, you can put baskets (with 10 pumpkins each) on one side of the line, and individual pumpkins on the other side.  Then count the number of baskets for the value to put in the 10s column and the number of individual pumpkins for the ones-column.  The kids needed a lot of help with this, but were happy to make sure that their clients' orders were getting filled correctly so their 'babies' will not be sad and hungry.

Of course the best part of the game was placing each complete order into a little cardboard delivery box and delivering them to the right animal:

There were some very satisfied customers!

UPDATE: I was so inspired by how much my kids enjoyed early math "games" that I created the La La Logic Critical Thinking Curriculum for 3-6 year olds, which includes online brain challenge games, printable worksheets, enrichment activities and more!

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  1. That looks like a great fun activity - something my daughter would probably have a lot of fun with too.

  2. I am so glad I saw this! Will definitely use this idea with my boys, thanks for sharing. :)

  3. Oooh that's a good way to learn place value. I will give this a try with my daughter.

    Thanks for linking to the Sunday showcase.

  4. What an amazing idea! So cheap and simple but it's obviously fun if the kids wanted to do it several times :-) xx


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