I’m interrupting my usually scheduled Tuesday Tips to bring you a special math activity for preschoolers as part of the Cool Maths for Cool Kids month-long blog hop, hosted by Peakle Pie! And no, that’s not a typo – Brits are fancy, and don’t say math. For the last and final week, the series is all about math games and sorting. Today, I am sharing a game Big M, my 3 year old and I created, called Deck the Crown with Jewels, a sorting and dice game perfect for preschool.
Deck the Crown with Jewels: A Sorting & Dice Game for Preschool
As a finance major who worked in financial services for nearly a decade, I’m definitely a numbers nerd. And recently, we’ve discovered Big M is too. At 3, she’s already memorized both my husband and my cell phone numbers without us even teaching her, just from eavesdropping on our phone conversations and hearing us give it to customer service representatives. I also recently read this article on the predictive nature of early math skills “as the single most powerful predictor determining whether a student would graduate from high school and attend college.” Not only that, but it is a subject matter dramatically under-represented in most preschool curriculum.
Sorting is an early, basic math skill you can introduce to children at a very young age. Even Lil’ M, at almost 2 can attempt it in simpler forms. Now, Big M is at an age where she can even come up with the categories by which to sort objects. Dice games also teach great early math skills – from recognition of the iconic dot patterns as representative of the number 1 through 6, to early addition when more than 1 die is used, and even early concepts in probability. This activity involves both!
You will need a few basic supplies for this game, all of which I already had in our well-stocked craft closet, except for the blank dice.
Cost: Less than $5
Prep Time: Less than 5 minutes
Clean-Up Time: Less than 5 minutes
I found the foam crown cut-outs at the Dollar Store a while back, but I have also seen them in larger quantities at local craft stores. I bought a large container of jewels for crafting at Hobby Lobby before Christmas – I swear the things reproduce. We have barely put a dent in it, and used them for this activity. Our sorting tray is actually a dip tray, also from the Dollar Store. The blank dice were the only thing I could only find on Amazon – and they come with the stickers to label the sides. You can use glue dots to affix your jewels, or you can sort them back into the tray and play again and again!
The set-up is super simple. I let each of the girls choose a foam crown, and dropped a handful of jewels into the center of the sorting tray. That’s it – literally took maybe 30 seconds. They helped with the rest.
Sorting the Jewels
I told Big M the first thing we had to do to play our game was sort the jewels. I asked her how she thought we should sort them, and she decided to do it by color. It just worked out perfectly that there were only 6 colors of jewels, 6 sides on the die and 6 sections in our sorting tray.
She sorted all the jewels, then helped me find a marker to match each color, which I then used to label our die stickers, to create our colored die.
Playing the Dice Game
Using our newly created colored die along with a traditional, numbered die, Big M rolled the dice in the center of our sorting tray. To Deck the Crown with Jewels, she got 3 rolls.
Roll the dice, then select the number of colored jewels matching the dice…
… and place the jewels on your crown!
Sorting by Different Characteristics
She decorated 3 different crowns! Then, she decided we should sort the jewels a different way… by shape! So we dumped them all back in the middle, and she started sorting again…
I love when they invent their own twists on activities, taking it to the next level! I made another die with shapes to match her new categories, and she started rolling and decking more crowns with jewels! At 23 months, Lil’ M checked in and out, mostly just playing with her own handful of jewels on a crown, but this could easily be played with multiple kids or set-up as an activity center in a preschool classroom as well.
Want more Math Ideas for Preschool?
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out our latest eBook, ABCs and 123s, featuring 40+ hands on, play-based learning activities featuring letters and numbers for your preschooler!
What are some early dice games you have played with your preschool-aged children? If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy Montessori Color Match and Sorting Seashells – A Summer Math Activity. Be sure to check out all 31 days of Cool Maths for Cool Kids, as well as the final day link-up, for a full assortment of math activities for kids of all ages!