Below you will find an assortment of general purpose math activities for kids of all ages. These activities will teach kids basic math skills in a fun and entertaining way.
Jar of Candy
Fill a clear glass jar (or other container) with candy. Skittles, M&M’s, Starburst Fruit Chews, or Gummy Bears work well. The younger the kids, the larger the type of candy you should use. Set the jar in the middle of the table. Next put some of the candy you used to fill the jar out around it, along with some smaller containers or measuring cups. Have the kids fill the smaller containers with the candy you placed around the jar, and use that as a basis to try and estimate how much candy is in the big jar. For example: “If 12 gummy bears fit in this container, how many of these small containers do you think would fit into the big one?” Let them record 3 or 4 guesses on a card. Revisit the activity later on, counting out the jar and determining which kids came closest with their estimates. Divide some of the candy out to the class.
Get an assortment of calculators, and set them out at a table along with scrap paper and writing utensils. Let the kids free-play with the calculators to work on number and math skills. Consider adding catalogs or number flashcards as additional props. Have them search through the catalog and add up the prices of different things they like.
Volume & Measurement (All ages)
This is a fun mathematical activity that is sure to hold the children’s interest. Pull your sensory table over to one of your classroom tables. (If you don’t have a sensory tub, get any large container or bucket.) Fill either the bucket or the sensory tub full of water, and gather some funnels and a variety of measuring units, such as cups, 1/2 cups, 1/4 cups, or even teaspoon and tablespoon measurements. Also gather a variety of different sized containers, such as plastic pop bottles, juice bottles, empty pill bottles, etc.
You can work on a variety of mathematical concepts as the children measure the water into the different containers, such as adding and subtracting, basic fractions, and volume and measurement. Consider adding food coloring, glitter or sequins to the water to make this activity more lively.