Ice Cream Number Learning Activity

Jan 18, 2013

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We love getting hands on and sticking and pasting. It's also a great way for us to include some number learning as it takes many experiences with numbers to consolidate the learning.

Here I provided a fun Invitation to Play and Learn, (see end note on this if you want to replicate our exact poster)  intended to practice number recognition, counting, ordering, colours, subitizing, shapes and language using a few simple materials. My daughter who's just turned 4 also managed to include some sorting as well.

Ages: 3+
(See Handy Tips at the bottom of the post for ideas to Simplify or Extend to meet your childs' needs)

Materials: Large piece of paper for sticking your ice creams on, Triangle Cardboard "ice cream cones" with numbers written on each, Different coloured/textured/patterned paper circles (I cut mine with a 2" circle cutter but you could fold and cut simple semi circles by hand), glue stick. 

I presented the tubs and sat back to watch what she would do. 
She was quick to dive into the cones.

Straight into sorting them from smallest number to largest number without prompting

Pasting the cones down in order. I assisted her to leave adequate gaps between the cones as she decided she wanted to use the whole paper and fit all of them on. Spacing was too difficult for her at this stage

She couldn't wait to get to the "ice cream" The first thing she did was sort them into colours/patterns and then assign them all different flavours. There was lots of great language practice and creativity

Pasting the corresponding amount of ice cream scoops on each cone. Plenty of counting and one-to-one correspondence took place. 

For the numbers 6-10 I used "double cones" because I wanted two rows side by side for the larger numbers to help my daughter recognise some of the number doubles/combinations that make up those larger numbers. (eg 8 = 4 + 4)
(It was also handy because the paper I got out wasn't tall enough to fit 10 ice cream circles in one line without me cutting and sticking on extra paper anyway)

Our finished poster. Great for a bright, fun playroom or classroom display

Handy Tips:

- Simplify this activity by starting with the numbers 1-3. This amount will be more managable for those with a more limited understanding of numbers. You could also pre-stick down the cones and just have children add the corresponding number of circles.

- Extend this activity by having children cut and label the cones themselves. You can also work on a larger scale with bigger numbers etc. Pick a larger number and have children make up different combinations of amounts of ice cream scoops on each side to equal that number. What if you had a triple cone? etc

- Focus more on number combinations and addition by only including 2 or 3 colours of "ice cream" and having children make different combinations to make a given number. 

- Makes a fun group project

- I included the dots on the cones for subitizing practice (where just looking at the 3 dots you can know it's 3 without counting them one by one). It's also good for children still working on number recognition as they can count the dots to find the number written on the cone.

- How you present an activity can be what makes it a successful activity or not. Sometimes just bright, colourful or interesting invitations can be enough to draw a child into the learning. Sometimes, if you are looking for desired outcomes, say, in an activity like this, you might want to encourage young children by inviting them to "come and make ice creams" with you. 
The number learning will come from that but first you can get excited together about the wonderful colours and dreaming of all the delicious flavours. 
Make it appealing, make it fun and children will be excited to learn.

Note - I was able to provide this activity as an Invitation to Play and Learn and as my daughter is quite used to this sort of play and I didn't have a set end result requirement. She responded in an expected manner and ended up, (with very limited assistance or prompting) with my "hoped-for" end result. However, she could have done something completely different and we would not have ended up with the same poster at the end. If you're after a set result (eg. making that Ice Cream Numbers poster, you may want to explain your expectations rather than simply provide the materials)

Looking for more fun NUMBER activities for kids?

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Happy playing,
Debs :)

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