My kids jumped for joy when they saw me bring the big orange bin up from the storage closet. They knew what was in there. Halloween is one of their most favorite times of the year- I mean the candy, costumes, decorations, etc. But what they really love is all the activities I’ve put together over the years. The great thing about these activities too is that you might already have these items at your house or you can find them for cheap at the dollar store.
Let’s look at the fun ways to incorporate math into your Halloween playtime. These activities are probably geared toward PreK-1st but you can change up the numbers to make it more appropriate for your learner.
Ten Frame Eyeballs:
This activity is great for working on number sense up to 20, meaning your child is building fluency with numbers, what a given number set looks like, and understanding how to work with numbers.
Materials: 10-piece pumpkin tray (you can use an egg carton and cut off the last two sections), plastic eyeballs, and number cards. We’ve used this game for a few years now but I’m pretty sure I found all the materials at the dollar store and I printed the number cards.
It’s a pretty simple activity to set up and play and it’s really easy to differentiate. For preschool or kindergarten I would only work with numbers up to 10. For 1st graders I would work with numbers up to 20. Give each student their own tray, a set of eyeballs (at least 10 or 20), and a stack of number cards. The student is to flip over a card and make that amount in their tray. The reason this tray is so wonderful for number sense is that students can easily work with the number 10. It also helps with subitizing and counting on, all of which are really important concepts to master.
After the student has made their amount, they can take all the eyeballs out and start over or they can flip over a card and change their amount. For instance, if they first flipped over the number 5, and now flipped over the number the 8, they can see they need to add 3 more. Or if they flipped over the number 2, they can see they need to take away 3. So not only are they building a sense of what the number 5 looks like, but they are learning about addition and subtraction and again building fluency is working with and changing numbers. First graders will need two trays so they can work with numbers up to 20. Once your kindergartener expresses mastery in working with ten, have them work with numbers up to 20.
Halloween Candy Math
Do your kids constantly ask if they can have candy out of their Halloween bucket? Yep mine too. And my answer always is, “Sure, but math first.” Sometimes I get the eye roll but they are starting to understand my natural teacher tendencies: I can and will always make a math activity out of your snack!
All you need is small bag of candy: Skittles or M&Ms work really well. Open the bag and have your student sort by color. If you have a preschooler, this is a great activity for them. You can even have them sort them by color into graph-like columns and then let the learning begin:
- What color do you have the most of? The least of?
- How many do you have altogether? Have your child put them in a ten frame pattern (5 on top, 5 below and so forth) or piles of 10
- How many altogether when you combine the (red) and (yellow)?
- For older students, give them a word problem such as “The answer is (7) what could the problem be? Or work on arrays (multiplication) and/or division.
- How many MORE (red) do you have than (yellow)?
- Are there enough for each person in our family to have (2)?
- If there are (15) candies and you eat (7) how many will be left?
- Practice subitizing (the ability to quickly see how many without counting one to one): without your child looking (you can see in the picture below I’ve used a box that I can cover with the lid), choose a color (or some sort of small object) and put them in a dice pattern (5 for instance). Then show your child and have them quickly (no pointing and counting with their fingers) tell you how many. Continue with one color and then move to 2 colors. Take 2 of one color and 3 of another and arrange them closely. Have your child look and tell you how many.
- Practice making patterns (while this isn’t exploring number sense it’s still a great activity for practicing math concepts)
Guess My Jack o’ Lantern attribute game:
This is a fun game my kids really enjoy and they don’t even know that they are working on their descriptive vocabulary, exploring attributes, comparing and contrasting.
You can find this FREE game and the printables that I’ve created here
Halloween Story Problems:
Word problems are great for developing number sense, mathematical thinking and problem solving.
Remember that big orange bin? Yeah there are about 100 mini erasers in there that my kids love to play with. They come up with all sorts of ways to use them. Mathematically speaking, they are great for sorting, counting, patterning, etc.
If you’ve got some (or a hundred) laying around, grab them and print out this FREE activity for some fun story problems that your kiddo won’t mind solving.
And if you have littles in the house (that won’t eat erasers), the haunted house printable works well to print out and give to your toddler while you are trying to work with your other kiddo. It will keep them busy for you.
I hope you enjoy these ideas and printables for some fun Halloween math time.