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Volume 7, Issue 2
January 19, 2009
Theme: Marshmallows and Math


Math -- you work hard to keep it lively yet meaningful! Experts say that introducing math to students through exploration and discovery of real-world situations leads to creative thinking and problem solving. In this issue we include activities that are sure to engage your students' interest and encourage individual exploration. So jump in and take a bite out of some really "sweet" math.

P.S. Before using any food items, be sure to be aware of student allergies and have children wash their hands thoroughly.

Susan LaBella
Editor, Early Childhood Education Newsletter



Encourage counting and number recognition with this simple activity. Turn the bottom half of an egg carton upside down and write a different number from 1 to 12 on top of each cup. Next, make a slot on the top of each cup either above or below the number. Gather twelve craft or Popsicle sticks and onto each one glue a corresponding number of mini marshmallows (1 to 12). Let children count the marshmallows they find on a stick, find the matching numeral on the egg cup, and slide the stick into the proper slot.

Reinforce the skill of counting backwards from ten. First, have each child draw a rail-type fence on a piece of paper. Give each child 10 mini marshmallows. Let children line up their marshmallows on top of the fence. Then together recite: "Ten marshmallows sat on the fence and the little one said, jump off." Let children eat one marshmallow. Continue reciting and counting down, allowing children to eat one marshmallow at a time. If children become full, they can simply remove the marshmallow from the fence and save it for later.

--- Give each child a tub full of mini marshmallows and a set of measuring cups. Point out the numbers that appear on the various cups and explain that these cups are used for measuring when cooking. Let children take some time to fill and empty the cups with marshmallows. Then pose questions that invite children to investigate. "How many 1/2 cups do you need to fill 1 cup?" and so on.
--- Encourage children to use marshmallows to find lengths of objects in the classroom. Provide both large and mini marshmallows for measuring and let children discover how many marshmallows are needed to measure the length of a pencil, a book, a desk, and so on. Ask: "Why do you need more small marshmallows than large ones to measure the desk?"

Purchase several bags of the small colored marshmallows (Campfire).
--- Use the various colors to create patterns. Make a pattern and have children mimic it. Then invite children to develop their own patterns for you to copy.
--- Write simple addition sentences and let children use marshmallows to show those number sentences.
--- Let each child choose a favorite marshmallow color. Show the results of this color survey on a simple graph and pose questions that students can use the graph to answer.

Give each child a pre-cut paper mitten shape (or any other simple shape you wish). Invite children to predict how many small marshmallows will be needed to cover the mitten shape. Record predictions. Then let children cover their mittens with marshmallows and count how many they used. Show actual numbers next to predictions and help children make comparisons. Repeat the activity using large marshmallows. Ask: What is different this time? When children have finished, let them eat their marshmallows and recite this fun rhyme.

Counting marshmallows…
What a treat,
When we're done
Yummmm… We eat!



Check out the following Web sites for additional background and activities.

Eating Math
The "math snacks" found in the first entry are sure to liven up your lessons.

Easy as 1, 2, 3: Introducing Young Children to Math
Let children try making Marshmallow Snowflakes (bottom entry), plus find a nice listing of children's books that reinforce math concepts.

How to Make a Marshmallow Snowman
Students will practice simple counting and have fun while making this sweet treat.

Counting With Marshmallows and Licorice
Use a math mat and marshmallows for a twist on your addition lessons. It's all here.

The Cheeto Walk
Don't let the title confuse you. Simply change "the cheeto" to a marshmallow for this fun game.