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Math Without Worksheets

We are teachers who believe there is no need to use worksheets to learn until about first grade.  Here is a great article on this very topic.  Young children need fun, hands on activities to learn, and that is what we do here at Bright Starts.  It saddens us that so many teachers think their job is to spend hours sifting through books and standing at the copy machine while they could be making fun learning experiences that can be used over and over again. Sure, it takes time to make some of these activities, but many can be used repeatedly over years.  Here are some examples:


  • Have children lay down in different shapes like circle, square and triangle-also targets motor planning and problem solving
  • Use Bendaroos to make shapes instead of having children draw them-also targets fine motor skills
  • Laminate shape printouts and use as playdoh mats-also sensory play

  • Shape puzzles-also targets fine motor skills and problem solving


  • Paint, let kids mix colors together to make new colors-also targets cause and effect, sensory and science skills
  • Play matching games such as matching the paintbrush to the same color paint can-also targets visual processing
  • Pattern with color blocks, stickers or anything color-also targets fine motor skills, problem solving

  • Use tongs to sort color pom-poms-also targets fine motor skills, motor planning


  • Trace numbers made out of sandpaper, dried glue, yarn or anything else tactile with your finger.  Use the same items to make number rubbings.-also targets sensory, science and possibly literacy depending on how done
  • Count objects to match a corresponding magnet number.-enforces that numbers have meaning
  • During regular play (i.e. block building, baby dolls, etc.) ask for X amount of objects-i.e. Can I have 2 shoes for my doll?  Can you put 3 blocks on my tower?  I have 4 pom-poms but need 6 for my picture, how many more do I need?-also targets cooperative play
  • Put paint in Ziploc’s and tape shut.  Use a Q-tip to practice writing numbers.-also targets writing, sensory

These are just a very small sample of activities that can be used to work on math skills.  When kids are able to ‘do,’ it holds more meaning to them then a worksheet therefore what is learned becomes ingrained and does so faster.  As you can see, when learning through hands on activities, not only do children have fun, but so many other skills can be incorporated at the same time!

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