Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Easter Week: Math

For a warm-up you can have your child place a jellybean in each egg carton cup.

He can count them while he is putting them in or after he has put them all in, or both.
You can ask him how much does he think it would be if he added one more to each cup. Whether or not he gives the right answer, let him do it and discover what it is. Do this as many times as he likes.

For the next activity have him fill plastic Easter egg with 1-10 jellybeans.
While he is putting them in, have him count how many he is putting in and have him write that first number down on a blank sheet of paper. Then have him open the egg up, being careful not to drop the jellybeans out, and count how many jellybeans have fallen in one side of the cup. Have him write that number down as the second numeral of a subtraction problem. Then have him count how many have fallen on the other side of the egg and use that number as the answer numeral of the equation.

Then have him close the egg up again and shake them. When he opens the egg up this time have him count how many jellybeans have fallen in one side of the cup. Have him write that number down as the first numeral of an addition equation. Then have him count how many have fallen on the other side of the egg and use that number as the second numeral of the equation. Then have him count the total, and write down the answer the the equation.

Then have him close up the egg again, and see if a new equation comes up for this same number of jellybeans total. How many different equations can he come up with in the same egg?

This process is a fun way for children to learn "fact families," or what problems can be made from three numbers.He can then go on to another egg, with a new fact family to explore. This is also practice in conservation in number, or the concept that 3 + 4 is the same as 4 + 3.
Quentin also discovered that he could write the equation backwards, such as 7=4+3 or 1=0+1.

"Students may be skilled at addition, yet not understand in what situations that skill might be applied. This failure to extrapolate is most apparent when students are asked to solve word problems. They may have the technical ability to solve problems when numbers are provided, but be lost when asked to extract the same numbers from words."

Another way you can use jellybeans is to make up math word problems with pictures. These pictures come from a book called Instant Math Storymats, but you could sketch your own.

You can take turns making up stories that involve counting, adding, subtracting...
and skills like multiplication and division are simple for even a young child...

if they are part of a story, like dividing fruit represented by colorful jellybeans between two story friends.
Quentin particularly likes stories in which he plays one of the characters.

"To discover for themselves the workings of (multiplication) students have to think; this thinking is the point of all our questions and, in the end, is the point of all mathematics."

Both quotes are from Mathematics is a Way of Thinking, by Robert Baratta-Lorton.
This is reposted from March 24, 2010.


  1. I'm sure my children wouldn't mind a little jelly bean subtraction :)

  2. I love it! We'll have to do some more yummy Easter math this week. Thanks so much for posting at Math Monday Blog Hop!! I love all your ideas!


  3. I need to get a bag of jellybeans.

  4. Mmmmmmmm........ jelly bean subtraction......

  5. We've been doing Easter M&M subtraction here - what gets subtracted getting eaten! LOL My 6-year-old LOVES LOVES Math now!


  6. I have NEVER heard of "Instant Math Storymats"- I clicked on your link and I am now "adding" (forgive the pun) this book to curriculum for next year...THANK YOU! :0)

  7. Great idea :) Candy makes everything more fun, doesn't it?

  8. I love this activity. Selena would do great in the jelly bean subtraction...the addition might not go too well, she would subtract them all before getting started. That is the problem with being a low candy or sweets family, when they do get it, they devour it.

  9. Anonymous19.4.11

    Hi Phyllis,

    These are great ideas! Certainly much more interesting than worksheets :-) I need to go and get some jellybeans!

  10. Phyllis I love all of your ideas. This is the cutest thing and I love the storymats book. I wish I had known about that when Kei was younger. She would have LOVED that.

    You just have the best curriculum and ideas!!!!

  11. These are great ideas. I agree with the observation that kids can have technical skill sometimes, yet they fail to apply the skill in real world. I think these kind of exercises help a lot with practical applications.

  12. I have a feeling my daughter would really like the storymats. She already makes up stories. Why not add a little math to the mix?


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