small objects, such as buttons, old keys, washers, beads, seashells, bottle caps,
pebbles, or pennies
1. Beforehand, collect an assortment of small objects and find a special container
to hold them. There is a lot of math the children can do with these
* Sort and classify the treasures. Ask, “Are all of the seashells the same size?
What about the keys? How are they alike? How are they different?”
* Use the treasures to ask addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
questions. For example, “If we share three buttons among three friends,
how many will we each one get?” Or, “If we have three shirts that need
two buttons on each, how many buttons do we need?” Even young
children can visualize these types of problems by manipulating, counting,
and sorting the items.
* Organize the treasures by one characteristic and place them end to end.
Compare and contrast the different numbers of each type of treasure.
For example, “There are three short keys, seven long keys, and 11
medium keys. There are four more medium keys than long ones.”
2. Keep the treasures in a special container that is readily available for counting
and sorting to provide practice in problem solving. The treasures will be
there when needed to help you to explain the concepts of addition,
subtraction, multiplication, and division because they can be manipulated and
grouped together so the children can count the items and visualize the