When it comes time to pull out the math manipulatives, without fail I go to my number rocks! They’re colorful, unique, and let’s face it – kids love rocks! Read on to find out how to make your own, and several ideas of how to incorporate them into your preschool. They are perfect for so many hands-on math activities!
If you’re a preschool teacher, or the parent of a young child, you know this to be true – kids love rocks. They love to pick them up when they’re outside on the playground. Or when they’re taking a walk outside with the family. Or even when you’re trying to get everyone from the car to the grocery store quickly.
Oh, the amount of rocks I have had in my pockets over the years (both from my son and my preschool or kindergarten kiddos)! Something tells me you can relate to this, yes?
On top of just being awesome, these number rocks are perfect for a variety of hands-on math activities like, such as one-to-one correspondence.
This set of number rocks was made years and years ago at this point. They have lasted through multiple sets of children’s hands, and I’m hoping they’ll continue to do so. Of course, they’re rather easy to make too. So I’m not opposed to making more!
Related: The Mitten Story Rocks
I started off by painting ten of the river rocks with white paint. Once the white had dried, I added different quantities of dots to each rock. Each rock held its own amount of dots, from zero up to nine.
As the quantity rocks were drying, I worked on the numeral rocks. These I left black, as a contrast to the white stones. I used different colors to paint numbers on each rock, again from zero to nine.
Once all of the number rocks were dry, I went back and sealed all of them. This has helped keep the paint from chipping too much as kids handle them.
How to Use Number Rocks for Hands-On Math Activities
There are numerous ways to use these number rocks in preschool. Below are just a few examples.
Have children order the numeral rocks from zero to nine. They can do the same with the quantity rocks, too.
The kiddos can match each numeral to the correct quantity rock. So the rock with the number 9 on it would get matched to the rock with nine dots on it.
Let the children use the numeral rocks to make larger numbers. For example, kids can put 1 and 5 together to create 15 (or 51).
The children can match up other objects to the numeral and quantity rocks, too. So they can match the number 7 rock to the rock with 7 dots, then add 7 unifix cubes beside the rocks.
Pair them with rainbow shape rocks for even more math exploration.
Related: Slime Monster Counting Activity
How would you use these number rocks with your children/students? I’d love to hear more ideas for hands-on math in the comments below!
A Full Week of Playful Rock Theme Ideas
Save time and get right to the playful learning with our printable lesson plan sets. Each set includes over 30 playful learning activities related to the theme, and we’ve provided different versions for home preschool families and classroom teachers so all activities are geared directly toward your needs.
This post was originally written for B-Inspired Mama and originally posted February, 2015.