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Cheerio Math Revealed! Do This With Kids As Young As Age 2!

Congratulations on making it through another tough week! I want to share something great today that you can use right away. I know how hard it is to stay motivated when caring for young children daily. This activity is not only fun but can also help people everywhere to see how very young children learn math in a hands-on way.

I've been using this activity since I saw some master teachers use it years ago in a mixed-age group of children with special behavioral and cognitive challenges. The children were mesmerized by it and I could see their effort and focus. Here's how it went.

The children were given sheets of paper with the same simple design drawn on each.

The teacher also gave each child a small cup of Cheerios and told them not to eat them yet.

Then she started giving them instructions like this:

  • put one Cheerio on each of the sun's rays

  • put two Cheerios on the tree

  • how many Cheerios are on your paper altogether now?

  • eat the Cheerios on the sun's rays

  • how many are left on your paper

  • eat one

  • now how many?

  • Put a cheerio on each of the flowers

  • eat two

  • now how many do you have?

  • put four Cheerios in the water

  • now eat 1/2 of them

  • eat the other two

  • great job listening and following directions!!

  • now you can color on your paper and finish any Cheerios left in your cup!

I've done this activity countless times with mixed age groups of typically developing 2-5's and it works like a charm every time. Of course, I've made some adjustments due to age. I tell the group to wait to eat their O's but that the younger children get a pass if they can't wait. We just ignore that and know they'll learn to listen and count better when they get a bit older.

But the older children will probably want to play the game since it's fun and they get to eat all the O's in the end anyway.

You can easily change the game according to the children's ages and developmental levels.

You can also make different drawings according to the seasons or the holidays you celebrate. I offer help for the kids when they want it but always keep it light with no set ideas about what's right and wrong

I offer a choice of markers, crayons, and oil pastels for coloring but you could also offer watercolors. Just be sure to bring out the art supplies after the listening activity is over.

Want more ideas like this? If you're not already a member, we'd love to stay in touch. When you join our free community, you get our free Ebook on How To Get Kids To Listen And Like It!

Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY!  She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.

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