A fun hands-on math activity for young children that uses number cards to practice some important basic math skills.
Do you have a young child at home who is showing interest in numbers and counting?
Are you always on the look-out for quick but engaging number activities or games to do with them?
If so, this post may be of interest!
This week I’m sharing a math activity that we’ve been doing at home with the numbers 1 to 20.
It’s a number card scavenger hunt, perfect for preschool or kindergarten aged children, that practices number recognition and number sequencing skills.
This activity is simple, fun, hands-on and requires very little prep.
And what’s more, it doesn’t require any writing. Instead, it uses number cards.
Using number cards
I love math activities that use number cards. Number cards are fun to use and the activities we do with them always seem more like games than ‘math practice’.
If you don’t have any number cards, you can easily make a set using post-it notes, pieces of card or paper plates with numbers written on them.
For our number card scavenger hunt we used number cards for 1 to 20.
If your child isn’t ready for teen numbers yet, you can still do this activity using just numbers 1 to 10 or 1 to 12 or, indeed, whatever numbers they are ready for.
So, without further ado, grab yourself a set of number cards and let’s get started!
Setting up your number card scavenger hunt
My eldest thinks this number card scavenger hunt is a lot of fun.
It basically involves finding number cards hidden round the house or room, and then ordering them in a giant number line on the floor.
We incorporated the scavenger hunt idea into this number card activity as we basically enjoy anything scavenger hunt/hide-and-seek related! (Just imagine how loop-de-loop excited we get at Easter when we combine a scavenger hunt and CHOCOLATE!!!! The mind boggles!!!)
So, with your child temporarily otherwise occupied, hide all of your number cards around the room (or house etc).
Try to mix the numbers up before you hide them so that the numbers will be found in a random order.
Also, take my advice and don’t hide them too well or you’ll still be discovering number cards around the house come next week (this has been known to happen to me).
Then, grab a basket or tub for your child to collect all the number cards in.
They are now ready to start number hunting!
Related post: Butterfly numbers 1 to 10
The number hunt is on!
Now depending on how old your child is, they may just want to go off and find all the numbers on their own. And this is totally fine – you will gain 5 minutes peace and quiet – a rare thing if you are the parent of small children.
Or, you can also tag along with your child as they hunt for number cards. If you do, this gives you a great opportunity to engage your child in some math talk.
Left to their own devices, your child is likely to find a number card and pop it straight into their basket. If you’re there though, you can ask ‘helpful’ questions to really get your child thinking, for example:
- “Which number did you just find over there?” (number recognition),
- How many numbers have you got in your basket so far?” (counting practice)
- Did you find number (insert whichever number you like here) yet? (number recognition)
This sort of questioning is great with young kids. They’re having to think about the numbers and practice simple yet important math skills whilst chatting with you.
(If your child doesn’t want to be distracted from the task in hand with math chat, that’s fine. I am often asked politely by my preschooler at this point if I could please be quiet – it can sometimes apparently be really irritating to have a teacher for a parent.)
Constructing your giant number line
After your child finds all (or most) of the number cards, lay them all out on the floor or table and help them to order the numbers, from smallest to biggest.
If you have time to do this activity a second time, you can order them from biggest to smallest this time.
A great thing about this activity is that inevitably, not all number cards will be found on the first go. Chances are there will likely be a few gaps. This is a fantastic math problem-solving opportunity!
Once you have constructed your number line and placed the cards you have found in order, help your child count up from the start to the finish.
Help your child work out which numbers are missing from the number line so you know which ones you still need to hunt for.
If this activity is too easy for your child, there are a few ways to change it up and make it more challenging. For example:
- Once you have found all the cards, order them in descending order, from largest to smallest.
- Use larger numbers – for example, use numbers 11 to 30
- If your child has been introduced to skip-counting, you could use number cards showing multiples of 10 (10, 20, 30, 40 etc) or 5 (5, 10, 15, 20 etc) and place these in order.
So there you have it! A simple, but fun math activity for practicing some basic math skills. I hope you enjoyed this number card scavenger hunt activity. Thanks for reading!
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