Dinosaur Lesson: Dino Counting Game

Introducing basic mathematical concepts to your child is as easy as one, two, three, STOMP. 🦖 This open-ended counting game allows your child to explore math concepts without a lot of rules (or any worksheets). The idea is to play with the tools and allow your child to lead the activity based on their interests and abilities. Start with the prompts and suggestions we’ve outlined below, but then feel free to modify based on what works with the way your child thinks and likes. Let your child’s interests lead the activity as much as possible.

  • 12 cup muffin tin (if you don’t have a muffin tin, draw 12 circles on a large piece of paper)
    • Optional: 3 plates/small baskets (or 3 circles on paper as mentioned above)
  • 12 counters (this could be dinosaur figurines, beads, beans, buttons, pennies—whatever you have 12 of on hand!)
  • Dinosaur number print out – Scroll to the bottom of that post to download the number cards for this project. Only print pages 9 and 10. Once you cut the cards apart, we recommend laminating them so you can repeat this project later.
What to do:

1. Begin by having your child count out 12 counters, putting one in each tin cup as they count one by one. Then, take the counters out and put a number card (1-12) in each tin. Ask your child to count out the number on the card as they place that many counters into each tin. (i.e. If the number card says “3,” they count out 3 dinosaur figurines into that tin.)

2. Next, practice the concept of addition! Put a number card in two of the tins (or in two plates or baskets if your child needs more room). Ask your child to count out the number of dinosaurs and put them into each tin. Then tell your child to combine the two groups, and move all the counters to a third tin or plate. (Use words like “plus” and “sum” to introduce these concepts in your play.) Finally, have your child count out the total number of counters to get the sum.

Example: “Group one had one dinosaur. Group two had two dinosaurs. When we combine them, how many do we have now? (*Child counts dinosaur total*) We have three dinosaurs! One plus two equals three!”

3. Practice subtraction the same way.

Example: “Our group had six dinosaurs. If two of the dinosaurs leave (*have the child remove two dinosaurs*), how many do we have left? (*Child counts remaining four dinosaurs*) Four dinosaurs! Six minus two equals four!”

4. If your counters are different colors or sizes, you can also have your child play with sorting them in the different muffin cups or in baskets.

(+) Ready for an upgrade? Have your child try counting by twos.

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