Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Button it Up (Beginning Addition Practice)

Number sense takes practice. Our youngest son is getting good at counting and associating numerals. I wanted to reinforce what he's learned and introduce simple addition sentences. 

I made a fun game to play with him. Not only does it practice math, it also works fine motor skills.

Because he's five and his attention span is still pretty short for seated activities, we only played for 10 minutes. I know we'll be playing it again… and again… and again, though.

Want to play?

What You Need
1-page PDF of Button it Up Game Board (download it free here)
Paper (1 sheet to print the PDF on)
12 small buttons (6 of each color)
Plastic Sheet Protector (or laminate)
Fine-tip dry-erase marker

How to Play
Once your game board is printed and either laminated or placed inside a plastic sheet protector, you're ready for your child to play.

1. Have him/her roll the die and count the dots.

2. If your child is proficient enough, have them write the numeral in one of the hands on the game board. If writing numbers is a skill that your child hasn't mastered yet, do this step for them.

3. Now your child will place the number of buttons rolled down the center of the shirt. I like to have them use the same color of buttons for each number rolled.

4. Now repeat steps 1-3, putting the numeral in the other hand, and using buttons of the other color.

5. Now say the addition sentence out loud (e.g. "Three plus four equals what? How many buttons are there all together?"). Write the answer in the shirt pocket (or have your child do this).

6. Use a dry cloth or paper towel to wipe the dry-erase marker from the board and start again! Repeat until your child's attention begins to wane.

Pair a Book with It
Even though this Pete the Cat book is more about subtraction than addition, it complemented our activity beautifully. Pete is a favorite in our house and even reading it over and over again is still enjoyable.


  1. This game is excellent because of the number of repetitions involved. Count on the die, count when placing the buttons, count the total, write the numerals, say the equation. The game board is sufficiently detailed to make the game interesting and yet sufficiently basic that the learner's attention is on the addition itself. A real winner!

  2. This look so easy and fun! My daughter is excited to do this with her big brother and use his fancy D&D dice! It will be interesting to see how much she wants to do herself and to watch the activity grow with her. Thank you so much! Amy