Author Archives: Lessons for Little Ones by Tina O'Block

About Lessons for Little Ones by Tina O'Block

Prek & kindergarten teacher for 18 years with a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education. Curriculum author of resources for preschool - grade 2.

End of the year bulletin board and craft

End of the Year Bulletin Boards & Craftivities with Writing Prompts

This post contains my favorite end of the school year craftivities and bulletin board displays that I have used over the years.

I love doing creative writing craftivities that help students reflect on the school year and then showcasing their work with pride in our classroom or hallway with a cute display! Parents, teachers, & students all enjoy reading about our favorite memories or seeing how much we have learned this year.  The displays also make perfect decorations for our graduation ceremony and end of the school year celebration.

If you are interested in using any of these end of the year displays in your classroom and want to save time creating them, the patterns, printables, detailed instructions, & bulletin board titles/letters are available in a money-saving bundle pack here OR individually by theme: Spring, Beach, Graduation.

This Year was “TOAD”-ally Cool! & “Un-FROG-ettable” Memories Frog Craftivity and Bulletin Board

End of the year bulletin board and craft

I must admit that this is one of my favorites! We usually do a frog unit towards the end of the year so it fits in perfectly with our theme!

To make the frogs, I first fold paper plates in half and have each student paint the top green and the inside pink.

end of the school year frog craft

Then while the plates are drying, students cut out their frog’s legs, arms, eyes, and tongue and draw/write about their favorite memory from the school year on their “My Favorite Memory” lily pads.  I let students choose whether they write directly on the lily pad or write/draw on a frame that they glue to their lily pad.

When the plates are dry, they glue their frogs together.

They look so cute on display in our classroom!  Here is another title you can use:

end of the year bulletin board

We Had an “Un-BEE-lievable” Year! Bee Craftivity & Class Display

End of the year classroom display

This cute, bee-themed bulletin board / classroom display will get your students “buzzing” about their favorite memories and accomplishments of the school year.

Prior to making our bees I wrote “I liked” across the top of an anchor chart and “I learned” across the top of another anchor chart.  We discussed favorite memories from the school year and I wrote them under the “I liked” heading.  We also discussed some things that the students were proud of learning and I wrote them under the “I learned” heading.  I gave the students the choice of which heading to use on their bees or they could use both or make two bees.

Students cut out the bee body and colored the stripes black starting with the first stripe at the top.

I gave students two different options for wings, white construction paper or wax paper that resembled the transparent appearance of bee’s wings. They cut out the wings of their choice along with antennas and a stinger and attached them to their bee bodies.

Then students referred to the anchor charts and wrote what they liked or learned this school year in the yellow lines of the bee body and drew a face for their bee on the top.

This Year Flew By! Kites Writing Craftivity & Bulletin Board

end of the year bulletin board

Students will be flying high after they reflect on all that they learned during the year!

There are 2 different ways that students can make their kites – they can write and/or draw what they learned on the kite itself OR they can write individual things that they learned on each kite tail.

This Year Has Been Buckets of Fun! Sand Bucket Craftivity & Bulletin Board

end of the school year bulletin board, classroom display

I use this display when our end of the year, graduation theme is the beach.

Each student makes a sand bucket and shovel.  Students can choose whether to write their names on the their shovels or on their buckets.  I provide a number of different art supplies from which students can choose to decorate their buckets (glitter, paint, crayons, markers, dot painters, etc.).  I also bring in sand and allow students to glue sand in the top of their buckets.

They write and draw about a fun activity or event from the school year and then glue their handle and shovel to their buckets.

We Had a Ball This Year! Beach Ball Craftivity & Classroom Display

end of the school year classroom display

This is another personal favorite of mine not only because I love how they turn out but now we create them digitally using Pic Kids (Pic Collage)!

Students first used the Clip tool to crop their pictures to a circle shape and then placed them in the center of the beach ball (a pattern that I provided and the students set as the background).

Then students used the text feature and either pictures from the school year stored on the camera roll, stickers, or web search pictures to complete each writing prompt on the beach balls.

To save ink, you can use a black and white beach ball pattern, print them, and then have students color in each section or use a colored pattern and print the full-color versions.

If you don’t want to have students create the beach balls digitally, they can complete them by hand as well.

end of the year writing craftivity

“Sea” What We Have Learned! Fish Craft & Bulletin Board

end of the year bulletin board

For this end of the year display I combined a favorite fish craft with a writing prompt.

To make their fish, students first painted a paper plate. While their plates were drying, they cut out their bubbles and wrote “I learned to” in the first bubble and then what they learned in the other two.

The next day, students cut a v-shape for the mouth and then glued the cut out piece to the other end for the fish tail.  They then glued cut up cupcake liners to their fish as fins.

This Year Has Been a Real Treat! Dog Craftivity & End of the Year Bulletin Board

end of the year bulletin board Dogs

As a dog lover, of course I had to do a dog themed end of the year display to match my room theme!

This craft was simple to do and turned out so adorable! Students simply wrote something they liked about the school year on the dog bone and then colored and cut out their dogs.

Smart Cookies Craft & End of the Year Bulletin Board

end of the school year bulletin board

This end of the school year display turned out yummy LOL!  I had students glue icing on a cookie pattern that was entitled “I’m a smart cookie!”.  Then they glued their pictures in the center and wrote things that they can do now that they could not do at the beginning of the year.  Afterwards, they had the choice of adding construction paper sprinkles, dot painter dots, or fingerprint dot decorations to their cookies.

Grinning Graduates Graduation Craft & Bulletin Board

graduation bulletin board

I have been doing this graduation bulletin board for many, many years and it is always a parent favorite!

Students color a face to resemble their own and glue a graduation hat to it. I have done the hat tassels 2 different ways – a paper cut out and a simple yarn tassel that is poked through a small hole in the hat and taped to the back.

Students then write and/or draw a favorite memory from the school year on their certificates, cut them out along with hands, and attach them to their face.

end of the year graduation craft & writing activity

If you would like the patterns, printables, detailed instructions with pictures, and bulletin board titles/letters for each of the end of the year bulletin boards shown above they are available in a money-saving bundle pack. Click here for details.

End of the Year Craftivities & Bulletin Boards Bundle

You can also purchase them individually according to theme.

End of the Year Bulletin Board & Craftivities Kit – Spring Theme (Frogs, Bees, Kites)

end of the year bulletin boards and craftivities

End of the Year Bulletin Board & Craftivities Kit – Beach Theme 3 Ideas

End of the Year Bulletin Boards & Craftivities Beach Theme

End of the Year, Graduation Bulletin Board & Craftivities Kit – 3 Ideas

coversquare

You may also like:

End of the Year Student Gifts & Gift Tags

Editable Diplomas & Graduation Invitations for Preschool, Kindergarten, & Grades 1-6

Easter Peeps play dough indredients

Easter Peeps Play Dough & Learning Activities

Easter Peeps Play Dough & Learning Activities

I saw several recipes for Easter Peeps play dough on Pinterest and had to try it for my class! By far the easiest one with the best results was from 123 Homeschool 4 Me. It was super simple (I’m talking like 2 minutes to make!) and was the best consistency.

Making the Easter Peeps Play Dough

All you do is place 5 Peeps, 3 tablespoons flour, and 1 tablespoon of Crisco in a microwave-safe bowl.

Easter Peeps play dough indredients

Place it in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir.  Let it cool for a minute, and then knead it.  That’s it! Super simple!

how to make Easter Peeps play dough

The only thing is it only makes a small amount of play dough and I needed more for my class.

Easter Peeps Play Dough Yellow

So I made a few more batches of the yellow and then decided to try blue bunny Peeps.

Easter Peeps Playdough Ingredients Blue

The blue turned out a pretty pastel color!

Blue Easter Peeps Play Dough

Using the Easter Peeps Play Dough for Learning Activities

My students LOVED it!  We used it in our math groups with our spring counting mats to practice numbers and counting.  Students rolled small balls of the Easter Peeps play dough using their thumbs and forefingers which was terrific fine motor practice and placed them in the ten frames! They thought the blue looked like robin eggs :).

Counting Practice with Easter Peeps Playdough

We also used the Easter Peeps play dough for subtraction smash (a student favorite)! If you aren’t familiar with subtraction smash, students use the play dough as a manipulative to solve subtraction problems. I usually have my students either write the subtraction problem on their dry erase boards or on their desks with a dry erase marker (it wipes right off). They then make the correct number of play dough balls (the first number in the equation) and line them up. Then they smash the correct number of play dough balls (the 2nd number in the equation) with their fists. The number of play dough balls still standing is the answer.

Easter Peeps Playdough Subtraction Smash

A similar phonics activity is to use the Easter Peeps play dough for CVC word practice.  Students write a CVC word from a list on their dry erase boards and place a Peeps play dough ball under each letter. As they say the sound of each letter, they smash the corresponding play dough ball with their fist and then they blend the sounds together while swiping up the smashed Peeps play dough balls.

Of course my students also just wanted to play and mold it, so I placed some in a play dough center along with our play dough toys and cutters.  We also used it to make Easter shapes for math word problems/stories.

Easter Peeps Play Dough shapes

After use, simply wrap it up in saran wrap.  If it gets hard, place it in the microwave for a few seconds.  This really was a surprisingly easy play dough recipe and a great use for Easter Peeps!

Easter Peeps Play Dough yellow and blue

You may also like:

Easter Student Gifts & Gift Tags

Fun Ways to Decorate Easter Eggs with Students or Children

Resurrection Eggs Christian Easter Activities

The Colors of Easter Jelly Bean Poem Christian Activities, Printable Book

Winter Play Dough Recipes & Activities (Snow Dough Recipe & Hot Chocolate Play Dough Recipe)

Easter student gift tag egg shaped

Easter Student Gifts & Gift Tags

Easter Student Gifts & Gift Tags

Today I am sharing some favorite Easter gift tags that can be added to any Easter treat to easily create a special surprise for your students. Simply attach them to baggies filled with chocolate eggs or bunnies, jelly beans, Easter Peeps, trinkets, or your favorite Easter surprise.  If you like any of the sayings and would like to save time creating your own tags, you can find the Easter gift tags used in this post here.

“Some-bunny” Thinks You’re “Eggs-tra” Special! Easter Gift Tag

Easter student gift tag

“Hoppy” Easter to an “Eggs-ellent” Student! Easter Gift Tag

Easter student gift tag - Hoppy Easter

To An “Eggs-tra” Special Student! Egg-Shaped Tag

Easter student gift tag - "Eggs-tra" Special

“Hoppy” Easter to an “Eggs-ellent” Student! Egg-Shaped Easter Tag

Easter student gift tag egg shaped

An Easter Treat for One of My Favorite Peeps! Gift Tag

Easter student gift tag - Peeps

“Hoppy” Easter to One of My Favorite Peeps! Student Gift Tag

Easter student gift tag - Peeps

“Some-bunny” is Very “Hoppy” to Have You as a Student! Easter Treat Bag Topper

Easter student treat bag topper

“Hoppy” Easter to “Some-bunny” Special! Round Student Gift Tag

Easter student gift tag round

If you would like to use these Easter Student Gift Tags for your students they are available here.

Easter Student Gift Tags Editable

You may also like:

Resurrection Eggs Christian Easter Activities

The Colors of Easter Jelly Bean Poem Christian Activities, Printable Book

Fun Ways to Decorate Easter Eggs with Students or Children

St. Patrick's Day leprechaun writing craftivity

St. Patrick’s Day Crafts & Writing Craftivity

Incorporating crafts into the curriculum allows students to create personalized and original pieces that showcase their creativity and are a fun way to work on fine motor skills.

Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite writing craftivities that connect the St. Patrick’s Day holiday to students’ own lives making learning more meaningful. I’m also including 2 fun crafts that can be used as cute seasonal decor to make your classroom look more festive.

Leprechaun Writing Craftivity

This activity combines language arts instruction with a fun St. Patrick’s Day craft. We completed the writing prompt first during group time.  I like giving students choice in their writing so they got to choose from 2 writing prompts:

If I had a pot of gold…
I would hide my pot of gold…

We had been talking and learning about leprechaun lore so this activity allowed the students to be “in the leprechaun’s shoes” so to speak and think about what they would do if they had a pot of gold or where they would hide it to keep others from finding it.

After completing the writing portion of the activity, we got to work on creating the leprechaun. We used paper plates for the head because when completed it gives the craft a sort of 3D effect.

I have been doing this craftivity for several years and have done it 2 different ways – with kid drawn faces and with real student photos.

I’ve also used different methods for making the beard – tissue paper squares with my younger pre-k students and tear art with my kinders.  I really like the fine motor practice that students get with the tear art method!  Both turn out cute!

Students then attached their leprechaun faces to construction paper and glued on their writing prompts and leprechaun hands.

They make such a cute classroom or hallway display!

St. Patrick's Day leprechaun writing craftivity

I’m Lucky To Be Me St. Patrick’s Day Craftivity

I like this craftivity because it requires students to reflect on their lives and what makes them unique and special.

I’ve also done this activity 2 different ways – using student names and using student photos.  After a class discussion, students wrote 4 reasons they felt lucky to be themselves (1 on each leaf of a “lucky” four leaf clover).  I then displayed them on our classroom door with the title “Mrs. O’Block’s Lucky Charms” (sorry I couldn’t locate a picture of my door at the time of this writing).

Shamrock Suncatchers Craft

These suncatcher crafts really make your room look festive and brighten up your windows (if you don’t have windows they can be hung from the ceiling)!

I traced a shamrock pattern onto green construction paper then cut it out (I folded the paper in half and cut multiple shamrocks at once to save time).  I then glued it on wax paper.

I gave students cut up tissue paper squares in various shades of green, watered down glue, and paintbrushes.  They painted on some glue to the back of their shamrocks and glued on the squares until it was covered.

I Can Make Green! Craft

In the St. Patrick’s Day PowerPoint that I show students they learn that yellow and blue make green so I wanted to let them try it out for themselves.

I have used both watercolor paint and watered down tempera paint for this craft and both have worked well.  With my younger pre-k students I give them a small container of yellow paint and a small container of blue paint (they choose from light blue or dark blue). I then have them add the blue paint to the yellow paint a little bit at a time and mix them together until they get the shade of green that they like. They paint their four leaf clovers with their newly created green paint.

With my kindergarten students I have them mix the paint directly on their clovers to create various shades of green.  First they paint a small section yellow or blue, rinse their brush in water, then paint over it with the other color and mix together.  They discover that using more yellow gives you lighter shades of green and more blue gives you darker shades of green.  The four leaf clovers they create have various shades of green and turn out very pretty and each one is unique.

I’ve used 2 options for displaying each child’s green shamrock – letting them make their names with glitter or gluing on their photos.

If you would like to do any of these crafts with your students and save planning time, the patterns and more detailed instructions are in my St. Patrick’s Day Crafts resource.

St. Patrick's Day Crafts (Writing Craftivity Pack)

If you would like additional activities you may be interested in my St. Patrick’s Day Bundle Pack that includes a PowerPoint Presentation, math, science, and language arts activities, crafts, & student gift tags. Click here for more details.

St. Patrick's Day Bundle

You may also like:

St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow Experiment, Math Activity, Writing Craftivity & Game

St. Patrick’s Day Treats for Students, Gift Tags & Treat Bag Toppers

St. Patrick’s Day CVC Word Riddles

A Sneaky Way to Teach Students about St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's Day Craft Ideas & Writing Craftivity

rainbow writing craftivity - A rainbow is...

St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow Experiment, Math Activity, Writing Craftivity & Game

I like to teach about rainbows and the colors of the rainbow around St. Patrick’s Day since part of the lore of the leprechaun is that he sometimes hides his pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.  Here are a few of my favorite rainbow activities.

Rainbow Science Experiment

This simple experiment helps students understand what is needed to form a rainbow and why we don’t always see rainbows even if there is both rain and sunshine.

Materials Needed:

A clear glass or container
Water
Small mirror
Direct sunlight

Fill the glass or container with water.
Place the mirror in the container of water at an angle.
Position the glass so the sunlight is shining directly at the mirror.

rainbow science experiment

Adjust the angle and position of the mirror until you see a rainbow on the wall or ceiling (if you don’t have a white or plain wall, shine it on a sheet of white poster board).

Move the mirror so that the rainbow disappears.  Ask students what you did to make the rainbow no longer visible (moved the mirror).  Explain this is the reason we don’t always see rainbows every time there is sunshine and rain.  The sunshine has to shine through the rain at just the right angle in order for a rainbow to be visible just like the sunshine has to reflect through the water at just the right angle.

Move the glass out of the sunlight and ask students why you can no longer see a rainbow.

I usually let groups of students experiment with the mirror and water on their own to see if they can make the rainbow appear. Afterwards they complete this printable page.

St. Patrick's Day rainbow science experiment printable page

St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow Math Activity

This is a simple, fun math activity that is a student favorite because it involves food and they get to munch any leftovers LOL!  It uses Fruit Loops cereal and reviews math skills and the colors of the rainbow.

Give a pair or small group of students a container or pile of Fruit Loops cereal (make sure there are cereal pieces in all of the colors).

Students make a rainbow using the cereal ensuring the colors are in the correct order (since there is no indigo in Fruit Loops we just do blue then purple/violet).  You can have the students glue on the cereal if you wish to display or keep their rainbows or you can let them build the rainbow and then eat the cereal as a reward after finishing the math portion of the activity.

After making their rainbows, students then count how many cereal pieces of each color they used and answer questions such as:
What color had the most pieces?
What color had the least number of pieces?
How many more red pieces than blue pieces did you use?

St. Patrick's Day Rainbow Counting Math Activity

Rainbow Writing Craftivity – A Rainbow is…

I really like integrating crafts into our curriculum.  They allow students to create unique and personalized pieces that show their creativity and they are also excellent for working on their fine motor skills.

This rainbow writing craftivity relates the colors of the rainbow with students’ environments making the learning more meaningful.

For each color of the rainbow, students write and/or draw something of that color on a rainbow color strip.  They then put the strips in order and glue them to a cloud entitled “A rainbow is…”.  (Since my kinders are familiar with the color word purple more than violet and indigo I use a purple color word strip.  You can replace it with an indigo and a violet color word strip to resemble the real colors of the rainbow.)

rainbow writing craftivity - A rainbow is...

I love how these look hanging from our ceiling!

rainbow writing craftivity - A rainbow is...

St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow Relay Race Game

This is a fun game that gets the students up and moving and practices the colors of the rainbow.  It is played like a relay race so you need a large, open playing area.

Divide students into teams.  Have each team stand in a line on one side of the playing area.

Place a pile of shamrock rainbow color cards (a card for each color of the rainbow) for each team on the opposite side of the playing area.

St. Patrick's Day Rainbow Relay Race Game

On your signal, the first player from each team runs to their pile of shamrock rainbow color cards, picks one up, runs back and tags the next person in line on their team. The next person then runs to the pile, selects a card, runs back and tags the next player.  Play continues until all shamrock rainbow color cards have been picked up.

Once a team has all of their shamrock rainbow color cards, they can place them in a line in the correct order (colors of the rainbow).

St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Rainbow Relay Race Game

The first team to correctly put their shamrock color cards in order is the winner.

If you liked the printables used in these activities and would like to use them in your classroom they are part of my St. Patrick’s Day Bundle which includes a PowerPoint Presentation, science, math, language arts activities, crafts, student gift tags, & a game.

St. Patrick's Day Bundle

You may also like:

A Sneaky Way to Teach Students about St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day CVC Word Riddles

St. Patrick’s Day Treats for Students, Gift Tags & Treat Bag Toppers

St. Patrick’s Day Crafts & Writing Craftivity

National Find a Rainbow Day Activities

St. Patrick's Day Rainbow Science Experiment, Writing Craftivity, Math Activity, & Game

St. Patrick's Day Student Treat Tag

St. Patrick’s Day Treats for Students, Gift Tags & Treat Bag Toppers

St. Patrick's Day Treats for Students & Gift Tags

Is it any wonder with O’Block being my last name that I love St. Patrick’s Day? LOL! Celebrating it with young children makes it extra special because I get to experience the excitement and wonder in their eyes when they see all of the hijinks that the tricky little leprechaun plays on us and how things “magically” turn green!

I also like surprising students with a little extra treat on celebration days making them feel special and making the day more memorable for them.  You never know what students may be dealing with or going through and sometimes a simple kind gesture or treat can completely change their mood or mindset.  Just knowing someone cares can mean the world to young child.

Here are a few of my favorites.  I’ve included treats with messages that can be given as a take home treat or special surprise as well as some snack suggestions for your party. I have templates for both regular student treat tags and treat bag toppers because in recent years Ziploc has come out with small snack size bags that are the perfect size for student treats so I switched to using them and wanted tags that would fit across the top.  I have shared both so you could choose the ones that fit your needs.

If you like any of the student treat tags and would like to use them for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration you can find them here.  They are editable so you can personalize them with your student names and your name.

You’re My Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow Treat Tag & Treat Bag Topper

Since we discuss and read books about finding gold at the end of the rainbow and do lots of rainbow experiments I like using this heartfelt saying for student treats.  I added a few visual clues for my youngsters on the tags that I created.  Use Rolo candies to represent the gold and Skittles to represent the rainbow.

St. Patrick's Day Student Treat Tag

St. Patrick's Day Student Treat Bag Topper

Happy St. “Patties” Day! Treat Idea and Student Tag

This a personal favorite not only because of the cute play on words but because it uses Peppermint Patties which remind me of my dad.  Peppermint Patties were his all-time favorite candy so every time I see or eat one it brings back treasured memories of him.

St. Patrick's Day Treat Idea for Students with Gift Tag

St. Patrick's Day Treat Idea for Students with Treat Bag Topper

I’m Lucky to Have You in My Class! St. Patrick’s Day Treat & Tag

I have used this versatile, cute idea and tag for both St. Patrick’s Day and Open House. Since it uses Lucky Charms cereal I place it on students’ desks in the morning as a special surprise for when they enter the classroom.  You can tell them it was an idea that the leprechaun told you or you can say that it is a treat the leprechaun left for them and change the words to “I’m lucky to have visited your class”.

St. Patrick's Day Student Gift Idea and Gift Tag

St. Patrick's Day Student Gift Idea and Treat Bag Topper

St. Patrick’s Day Student Snack Ideas

Shamrock Jello Jigglers

St. Patrick's Day Treat - Shamrock Jello Jigglers

I love using Jello Jigglers for treats because they can be easily shaped into pretty much anything and kids love them!  Follow the instructions on a box of Jello for Jigglers and pour into a deep cookie sheet or pan.  When set, use a shamrock cookie cutter to cut out the shaped Jigglers (I spray my cookie cutter with Pam Cooking Spray first so it doesn’t stick to the Jello).

Leprechaun and His Gold

This is an oldie but a goodie! This is a snack that students can make themselves at a party station.  You will need Keebler E.L. Fudge cookies (the ones that look like the Keebler elf), Corn Pops cereal, and small cups (Dixie cups).  Students fill their cup with the Corn Pops cereal (gold nuggets) and then place a cookie down in the cereal to look like the leprechaun with his gold.  Sorry I could not find a photo of this at the time of this posting.

Shamrock Drinks

St. Patrick's Day drink

Of course I like to have green drinks too! The easiest one is to simply make green Kool-Aid.

If you want a more festive drink, I had a parent volunteer bring us Shamrock Punch one year and it was delicious!  She mixed 1 carton of lime sherbert with a 2 liter bottle of ginger ale.

If you liked any of the St. Patrick’s Day treat tags shown above you can find them here.

St. Patrick's Day Student Gift Tags

You may also like:

A Sneaky Way to Teach Students about St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day CVC Word Riddles

St. Patrick’s Day Crafts & Writing Craftivity

St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow Experiment, Math Activity, Writing Craftivity & Game

St. Patrick’s Day and Easter Grass Activity

Valentine’s Day Student Gift Ideas & Gift Tags

100th Day of School Ideas & Treats

Student Gift Ideas & Gift Tags for Positive Reinforcement, Testing, Motivation

Back to School, Open House, Meet the Teacher Student Gift Tags

Student Birthday Gift Ideas & Tags, Certificates, & Brag Tags

Christmas Student Gift Ideas & Gift Tags

 

 

Motivational & Fun Addition & Subtraction Practice

After working on addition and subtraction with manipulatives, math talks & stories, I needed to find a fun way for students to practice fluency to meet the core standards.  As we all know, for them to become fluent means practice, practice, and more practice! So I didn’t want to just have one or two ways for them to work on their addition and subtraction to 5 and to 10 because I didn’t want it to become redundant or boring . I came up with a number of different ways for them to work on mastering their math facts while having fun.

Equation Boards for Addition & Subtraction to 5 and to 10

I love using these equation boards – they help students visualize addition and subtraction equations and the students have fun using them!

They are very simple to make – punch 2 holes in a piece of cardboard, poster board, or card stock, place 5 or 10 pony beads on a string, thread it through the holes and secure it on the back with tape.

Students slide the pony beads to make as many combinations to 5 and to 10 as they can or as many subtraction equations as they can.  For added fun, we pretend the beads are balls that we are throwing for the dog on the card.  After they slide the beads, students read the equation they created.  I made a recording sheet for them to then draw the equation and write it. After they write it they say it again.  You can also have students write/draw their equations on dry erase boards.

My students really enjoy using these and will oftentimes fill up the back of the paper with equations too!

Games

I like to make sure my fluency activities are motivating, fun, and meaningful for my students.  Therefore, I really like to use games.  Not only are games fun (much more fun than practice pages!) but they are also motivational.  The students want to win so they are more motivated to want to get better at their math facts.  I also like to choose a theme that is of interest to my students.  Our classroom theme is dogs (which they love) so I went with that when designing the games.  Pretty much anything with animals intrigues young students, am I right?

I also like for the games to be easy to learn and easy to use so we can use them anywhere in the classroom at anytime.  I use them with my small groups, I put them in our math tubs, they are available for indoor recess (and yes the kids do play them!), they are a free choice option, I use them as math centers, and I also send them home in gallon ziploc bags with students for extra practice (they love teaching their parent and siblings how to play!).

Top Dog Addition and Subtraction Card Game

addition and subtraction to 10 card game

This game is played similar to War but I don’t like to use that name with young students so I changed the name of the game to Top Dog.  Now I know what you may be thinking, why not just use regular playing cards?  You certainly can! However, I made my own cards for several reasons:

  • To have a set of cards with only numbers 0-5 enabling students to easily practice addition to ten
  • To not have to break up a regular set of cards, plus students got confused with the Ace being 1 and there wasn’t a 0.   Our UNO cards didn’t have the number represented with objects.
  • To have cards sized slightly larger than playing cards to enable young students to clearly see the images / numbers and easily handle the cards.
  • To create interest in using the cards by using a cute dog theme making them more interesting and appealing for students than regular playing cards.

I made the cards with 4 “suits” (different dogs and colored paws) to resemble regular playing cards.

The game is played with 2 players.  Students sit facing each other and deal out all of the cards face down (each player will have a pile of cards that they keep in front of them face down).

Each player turns over a card at the same time.  The first player to correctly say the sum of the two cards wins the round and gets to keep both cards.  For example, if a 2 and a 3 are turned over the first player to say 5 wins the round.

In the case of a tie (both players say the sum at the same time), players determine the “top dog” by each flipping over another card. The first player to say the sum of the 2 new cards wins and gets all 4 cards.

The game ends when one player has won all the cards or if time ends, the winner is the player with the most cards.

Variation:  Subtraction can also be practiced by having students subtract the lower number from the higher number.

Hot on the Trail of Math Success Game

addition and subtraction board game

I created this game for 2 players.  Each player places their marker at the start, one on each trail.

The object of the game is to be the first player to get your dog to the end of your trail and reach the dog house.

You can use cards or dominoes. Cards are placed face down in a pile.  Players take turns drawing 2 cards, adding the 2 numbers, and moving their dog (marker) the correct number of spaces (the sum of the 2 numbers) on their trail.

The first player to reach the doghouse is the winner.

Game Variations:

Practice subtraction to 5 by having players subtract the lower number from the higher number.

If using dominoes in place of cards, scatter them face down beside the game board. Players take turns turning over a domino and adding the 2 sides together.

When making game markers that I need to stand upright, I have found 2 simple ways to create them. Fold a paper clip upright and tape the marker to it or place the marker in a binder clip. Simple!

“Paws”-itive Path for Math Game

addition fluency & subtraction fluency game

This game is played by 2 players with a 100 chart and either cards or 0-5 dice.

Cards are placed face down in a pile or scattered face down.

Players take turns drawing or turning over 2 cards (or rolling 2 dice), adding the 2 numbers together or subtracting the lower number from the higher number, and coloring in the correct number of paws on the page in their color.

Game continues until all the paws are colored in.  Each player counts the number of paws in their color.  The winner is the player with the most colored in paws.

Bury the Bones Addition / Subtraction

addition fluency game

This is a fun, fast-paced game that can be played with 2 players or with a small group of players.

The object of the game is to bury (or mark / color) all of your bones before your opponent(s).

2 Players Taking Turns:

Each student has their own page and the cards are placed in a pile or scattered face down.

Players take turns turning over 2 cards (or rolling 2 0-5 dice), adding or subtracting the numbers, and marking or coloring the correct bone on their page.  If they draw 2 cards and the answer is already covered, they lose their turn and play goes to the next player.  The winner is the first player to bury (cover or color) all of their bones.

2 Players or Small Groups Playing Head to Head:

Each player needs their own page and their own set of cards (or 2 dice).

On a signal, players turn over 2 cards (or roll their 2 dice), add or subtract the 2 numbers, and color or mark the correct bone on their page.  If they already have the number marked, they draw 2 new cards.  Play continues until someone buries all of their bones and is declared the winner.  (When playing head to head it is a good idea to monitor play to ensure the students are marking the correct bones).

Bury the Bones BUMP! Game

addition and subtraction BUMP game

This is played like the popular BUMP game (a student favorite!) except we use our dog cards (0-5 dice can also be used).

2 players take turns drawing 2 cards (or rolling 2 dice), adding or subtracting the numbers, and placing their marker on the correct bone.

If an opponent’s marker is already on the bone, the player can “bump” them off and put their marker on it.  If their own marker is already on the bone, they can lock that number by stacking another one of their markers on the first one (players can stack as many of their own markers on a number as needed, for example if they get a 4 and already have 2 markers on it they can add a third or fourth or fifth, etc.).  When a bone is locked it can not be bumped off; therefore, if your opponent already has your answer blocked with 2 or more markers you lose your turn.

The game is over when one player has played all of their markers and wins the game.

Fetch Four Addition or Subtraction

Connect 4 addition game

I just HAD to make a Connect 4 game! It is one of my personal favorites because it brings back such cherished memories from my childhood. My grandfather and I played this game together for hours on Saturday nights when I was young. Pretty sure he let me win most of the time (lol) and would always say, “OH Tina! How did you do that? I didn’t even see it!”.

The object of the game is to get 4 balls in a row of your color either across, up and down, or diagonal.

Cards are placed face down in a pile or scattered face down.

Players take turns drawing or turning over 2 cards, adding or subtracting the 2 numbers together, and coloring in the correct ball on the page in their color.  They can choose any ball as long as it is the correct number (the sum of the 2 numbers drawn).  Students think strategically to figure out what ball to choose in order to block their opponent.

Game continues until one player gets four balls in a row of their color either across, up and down, or diagonal.

Bone Up on Addition and Subtraction SCOOT and Center Activity

Last but certainly not least – SCOOT!! My students loooove hunting for things around the room and in the sensory bin!  I love how it gets them moving around and keeps them engaged (especially during the winter months when we can’t get out for recess!) and that it can be differentiated (addition to 5, addition to 10, subtraction to 5, subtraction to 10).

The object is to find each dog a bone by matching the doghouses and dogs from the printable page with a bone task card (each task card has a unique doghouse, dog name, and dog). When students find a bone, they solve the addition or subtraction equation on the bone and write their answer by the correct dog on their page.

Sometimes I hide the bone task cards around the room and students put their pages on clipboards and go hunting.  Other times I use it as a center activity and bury the bone task cards in our sand table sensory bin and have students dig them up.

If you would like to use these addition and subtraction games, equation boards, and cards in your classroom you can find them here.  You’ll also find a BONUS Howling to 100 Chart Page!

100 chart

Addition & Subtraction Math Games, Equation Boards, SCOOT Cards

You may also like:

100th Day of School Ideas & Treats

My collection of math games