Activities at Home

Celery Snacks

If your child has not yet learned how to subtract, do this activity to model addition alone. If only subtraction practice is needed, do it to model subtraction alone.

What You Need:

  • Large stalk of celery
  • Peanut butter (or cream cheese)
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Paper plate
  • Paper and pencil

What You and Your Child Will Do:

Fill the cavity of the celery stalk with peanut butter. Explain that this “celery-and-peanut-butter snack” will be used to hold pretzels.

  1. Stick 3 pretzels into the peanut butter. Count the pretzels with your child to confirm that there are 3.
    Celery stalk filled with peanut butter positioned horizontally. 3 small, thin pretzel sticks are standing up in the peanut butter near the left end of the celery
  2. Tell your child to put a set of 2 pretzel sticks on the paper plate. Then say, “Add your set of 2 to the celery. Then let's see how many pretzels will be in the celery in all. (After the child puts the 2 sticks into the peanut butter, offer help in counting all the pretzels to find the sum.) Record the sum, or have the child record it, by writing “5” on the paper. If your child seems ready, write the complete number sentence with a plus sign (+) and an equal sign (=) to represent the modeling; for example, 3 + 2 = 5.
  3. Let your child remove the 5 pretzels. Smooth out the peanut butter, or add more to the celery, so that it's ready to hold more pretzels.
  4. Repeat the activity several times, each time starting with 1 to 5 pretzels. Each time, have your child make a set, from 1 to 5, and then add these to the pretzels already in the celery. You or your child should record the sum.

To Model Subtraction:

  1. Put 5 pretzels into the peanut butter. Have your child count them to confirm that there are 5.
  2. Ask the child to subtract, or take away, 3 pretzels. After this is done ask, “How many pretzels are left in the peanut butter?” Record the difference, or have the child record it, by writing “2” on the paper. Instead, you may write the complete number sentence with a minus sign (–) and an equal sign (=) to represent the modeling; for example, 5 – 3 = 2.
  3. Repeat the activity several times.