Number Recognition Matching Activity: Free Printable

This activity is ideal for kindergarten or first grade. It allows students to start matching the symbols for numbers with number words and ten frames. This activity is a great wrap up after you’ve spent some time practicing numbers with counters or snap cubes.

1st Grade Overall Picture Identifying Numbers Matching Activity

Cut out the squares on the first two pages and mix them up. Then sort them appropriately and tape them down on the provided table.

Find Your Family: A Game for Related Facts

Related facts are groups of facts that show kids how different numbers are connected. Some programs call them fact families. These fact families are important because they help kids see the connection between addition and subtraction.

A “fact family house” is when you organize all of these related numbers nicely under one roof.

For this game each child receives a game board with six incomplete houses. A house might look something like this.

Each player takes a turn rolling a die. Looking at their six houses they decide if the number on the die can add to or complete any of their fact families. Every game board is different and there is some strategy involved. You might be able to put a number in two different places and certain numbers are easier to place than others.

To win you have to fill all of your houses before your opponent.

This game could have many variations. The first one that comes to mind for me is making all the families ways to make ten. Or you could only use the numbers 1 thru 6 to make it easier for younger children. I created a blank game board too so that you can try out a variation. Write in your own numbers to tailor it to your child’s needs.

Have fun! And as always let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions.

Find Your Family (Blank Game Board)

Find Your Family Game Board (Facts up to 9)


The Game of NIM

Do you have a pile of pennies or beans somewhere? And a child who loves to play games? Then you have everything you need to play NIM.

The game is ancient and there are many different variations. The beauty of it is with a little math you can figure out how to win every time. What I love is that by changing the number of pennies you can make the game age-appropriate for different children. Try playing as a family.

What You Will Need:

15 pennies

2 players

How to Play:

  1. Place 15 pennies between the two players and decide who will go first.
  2. Player one must remove one, two, or three pennies. They decide how many and they cannot choose to skip their turn.
  3. After player one, player two decides to remove one, two, or three pennies and so on.
  4. The object of the game is to be the player who removes the last penny (in some versions this rule is the other way around).

Play several times and see if your kids notice any patterns. Now it is time for some mathematical thinking. Can you generalize any patterns that you notice? Try changing the number of pennies or changing who gets to go first. How does that affect your strategy?

What if you change the rules and each player can pick only one or two pennies? How would that change the outcome?

The goal is to start a good discussion about the strategy. And students are motivated because the more they discover the more unbeatable they become!

New Self-Paced Option for SAT Math Prep

Since the launch of the New SAT I’ve taught 6 sections of SAT Math. I love teaching the class and meeting so many wonderful students. One thing that I’ve learned is that my students are very busy. Sometimes carving out time to study for the SATs or to add one more live class is challenging.

With that in mind I created a self-paced version of the course. This 14-week self-paced SAT Math Prep course is a great option for the highly motivated or exceptionally busy student. At the beginning of the course students can opt for a 7-week or 14-week study plan. The study plan is also developed based on their goal score and how much time they have allocated to studying. Study plans are broken down into manageable chunks and help students study consistently.

All of the materials referenced on the study plan are provided on the course website or are available for free at Time will be spent reviewing the over 30 instructional videos I created as well as practicing problems daily. There are also automated quizzes that serve as checkpoints during the course. By the end of the course students will be familiar with the testing format and will have reviewed the fundamental concepts in Algebra 1, Algebra II, geometry, and trigonometry.

For complete details or to register for the summer 2017 session click here.

Learning How To Learn: Barbara Oakley at TEDx

Barbara Oakley is a top educational researcher and a professor of engineering. But she wasn’t always a math person. Originally interested primarily in languages and cultures, she made a career change at age 26 (reminds me of myself…I pivoted from French to mathematics when I started college). In this video she explains what she learned about her brains through that process.

The video is a great resource for parents or homeschool students. Learning how we learn makes us all better students.

Borax Crystal Snowflakes

I’ve heard of tried several crystal growing science experiments in the past but this one was my all time favorite for several reasons. First, it was cheap! I bought a box of Borax and some pipe cleaners at Walmart for $5 and now I have enough supplies for a co-op. Second, it was fast! The crystals started growing within an hour and the snowflake had formed in 4-6 hours. Yours might take longer, but you’ll definitely see the results that same day.

I did learn a lot from trying it out so here are detailed instructions with some notes and tips.



  1. Borax
  2. Pipe Cleaners
  3. A jar or container with a wide mouth
  4. popsicle stick or skewer for hanging the snowflake
  5. string
  6. scissors

Cut the pipe cleaner into 3 pieces and twist them to make a snowflake. You may want to trim it to make sure it is even. It is easier if you make your snowflake smaller so that it easily fits into the jar without touching the sides.






Bend down one pipe cleaner and attach a piece of string. Tie the string to a skewer or popsicle stick.

For the Borax solution mix 3 tablespoons Borax per 1 cup of hot water. I ended up using at least 3 cups in order to completely cover my pipe cleaner snowflake so you might be better off mixing 1/2 cup Borax with 3 cups boiling water. I needed the water to be boiling for it to dissolve the Borax. Also, be careful when measuring the Borax it spills easily as it is very light and powdering.

You can also add food coloring, although mine didn’t really show up in the final product.

Suspend the snowflake in the solution and wait.

5, 10, 15, 20! A Resource Roundup for Counting Practice

In first grade one of the big goals is to learn to count. Many kids will come out of kindergarten with a strong grasp of counting by ones, but learning to count by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s will prepare them for telling time and even multiplication. And remember kids need to practice counting starting from the middle too. Counting by 1’s starting from 22 is harder than starting from the beginning.

Below I’ve linked up some fun ways to practice counting.

Complete the pattern worksheets. This website has some great worksheets that range in difficulty. The one I picture below is one of the hardest because you have to determine if the numbers are increasing by one or ten before filling it in. There are also much easier patterns on the site as well so you can work your way up.

Connect the dots. This is genius! Have kids practice skip counting while discovering the secret picture.

Image result for Counting by 5s connect the dots

If you search “skip counting connect the dots” on Pinterest you will be able to find just about anything (from Mozart to Christmas trees!). But if you want a specific site try this one. They have links to 50 or so puzzles with skip counting ones at the bottom.

The Caterpillar Ordering Game. This game allows you to decide if you want to count up or backwards and you can adjust the difficulty so that it is 5s, 10s, or something else. It is also kind of cute 🙂

Number puzzles. The idea and photo for this came from the blog that I’ve linked up to, but you can find example of this all over the internet. They are a great way to reinforce the ideas of skip counting while also letting kids do some problem solving. It helps them practice counting by 1s and 10s, but they have to be able to count backwards and forwards. Here’s what a completed puzzle looks like:

Basically, think of it as cutting a number crossword out of times table. The rows will be increasing by 1 and the columns increase by 10. Cut all the numbers a part and put them in a baggie. The student has to arrange them and solve the puzzle by figuring out the order.

Business Project for 1st thru 3rd Graders

I’ve been thinking a lot about math projects as a way for kids to wrap up a unit in math and try out some of their newly learned skills in a real life situation. I was looking for something for lower elementary that utilized addition and subtraction with 3 digit numbers. I trolled around Pinterest but couldn’t find what I was looking for. So….

I came up with my own.

The idea is for kids to have fun creating their own business. They have to figure out what they are selling and design their own logo.

They have to predict and list their costs and Uno cards are used to model their projected sales. Then they have to add it all up and find their profit.

The free download is here.

Business Project for First thru Third Grade

Try it out and please leave feedback below. Coming soon…a similar project for 4th-6th.