Activities at Home

Grab a Handful

Have your child grab handfuls of anything of a size of which no more than about 6 will make a “handful.”

What You Need:

  • Bag of 9 large buttons (or checkers or crayons)
  • 3 additional buttons (or checkers or crayons)
  • 2 paper towels
  • Crayon
  • Pencil and paper

What You and Your Child Will Do:

  1. Tell your child to reach into the bag with one hand, grab a handful of buttons, and then spill the buttons onto a paper towel.
  2. Ask, “How many did you grab?” Count together. Then let the child use the crayon to write the number at the bottom of the paper towel.
  3. Now place 1, 2, or 3 buttons onto the other paper towel.
  4. Ask, “How many did I put on the paper towel?” Have the child count and write the number at the bottom of this towel.
  5. Now ask, “How many pieces did you grab in all?”
  6. To find the total number of buttons, suggest that your child count on from the greater number. For example, a child who grabbed 5 at first would count on starting from 6 while pointing to each of the buttons from the second towel.
    Two sheets of paper towels, one with 5 buttons, the other with 3 buttons and with the numbers 5 and 3 in child's handwriting at the bottom of the paper towels. A callout in between shows the counting from 6 to 8.
  7. On the piece of paper, ask your child to write the number sentence to record the counting; for example,
    5 + 3 = 8

More to Do:

As your child looks on, slowly switch the positions of the paper towels. Ask, “Suppose you grabbed this many buttons first (point to the second handful) and then I placed this many (point to the first handful). Then how many buttons would there be altogether?”

Talk about how the two number sentences are alike and how they are different.