Monday, January 25, 2010

homeschool: my little bean, er, cheerio counters

Charlie had a dentist appointment this morning.


So while my husband went off to have half of his face numbed up, I stayed home with the kids and we worked on math. As I was having them practice various exercises from their Kumon workbooks (pronounced "Ku-Mon" and not "COME ON you can do this!") I was struck with an idea for helping them to visualize and grasp number sequences.

Although there are a lot of great websites out there and lessons I could download, for the most part, I really wing it when it comes to teaching the children. Sure, I try to draw upon some of the things that they learned in Montessori, but because I don't have all of the supplies that a Montessori classroom has, I do my best to work with what I've got.

So today, I had in mind some kind of tool that allowed enough spaces for the children to count out a specific quantity and then visualize the numerical sequence using small objects. Small objects like ...say, dried beans.

But unfortunately, we're out of dried beans because our children poured them in the dirt with the hope that in the morning, we'd have a beanstalk. Leading up to the clouds. Where a giant with a goose that laid golden eggs would reside.

The thought of using coins crossed my bind - or buttons - but Henry, seeing that it solicits a response from me, has taken to shoving little objects in his mouth just to see my alarmed reaction.

So there I am thinking and thinking.

What could I use?

And then it came to me.


Relying upon my handy mini-muffin tins, and a bowl of Cheerios, I had the children count out the number of muffin indents. Then, I had them place the appropriate number of Cheerios in each indent.


One had one.

Two had two.

Three had three.

Four had four.

Still with me?

All the way up to ... twenty four had twenty four.


I also taught them that twenty four is divisible by two, three, four, six, eight and twelve.

"Huh? Diviso what?"


Just kidding.

(They ate all the Cheerios before we made it that far.)


A fun activity that teaches and yet satisfies a hearty five-year-old ...


And two-year-old appetite?


In my book, that's a win win!


  1. Kudos to you!

    For the record I was totally lost at "having them visualize and grasp number sequences...."

  2. What a great idea.

    When mine were in kindegarten their "math tubs" included dried beans. Each bean had been painted on one side (yeah, wouldn't want that job) and they would draw a number card. Then they would place that number of beans on the table and use them to make addition equations. For the number six, they'd place four red beans and two white beans on the table, or three of each color, or five and one.

    They did the same with leggos, using two different colors to build leggo towers to add up to their given number.

    *sigh* I loved helping with math tubs.

    I'm eager to read about your other teaching ideas.

  3. Hey Jen,

    I will have to come back and catch up later...Home School and Marriage Two things I am interested in.

    I found out yesterday LUNG CANCER RESEARCH LEGISLATION is NOW IN the US HOUSE AND SENATE ~ You know how important this is to us AND I know how important it is to YOU! Would you take a moment and ask your readers to go to this site and sign the petition and write a letter....I put the link on my blog along with a button.

    Love you!

  4. Whoops I forgot the link....Sorry!

    Love! Me

  5. Awesome.....good stuff all around.

  6. Good for you. The kids look real interested in their studies.

  7. My daughter's kindergarten class uses these mini stacking blocks for number sequences... and we were all asked to send in 20 pennies so they could start learning counting and money.

    The Cheerios were a BRILLIANT idea!

  8. Great Job Jen!!! That is the way to do it...One Day at time.

    Home school Mom for 8 years...WOW!!! EIGHT YEARS...I am still doing it one day at a time.

  9. Come to my YouTube page, and look for the little girl with the abacus, in my favorites. Most interesting! :D Children can see what they are adding on an abacus - 2 REAL beads and 2 REAL beads, add up to 4 REAL beads! :D Come to YouTube and search for children and abacus. It is truly amazin! :D

    ~Helpful ~Cindy! :)

  10. What an excellent idea. Your kids are going to be the smartest kids in kindergarten FOR SURE.

  11. This has nothing to do with your post (or maybe it does, I don't have time to re-read it right now) but I just wanted to say that this past weekend I completed my first 10K race - at the Dubai Marathon - and the running bug has bitten. But the reason I tell you this is that you've really inspired me to keep running - your experiences and stuff - and I hope that your children will be inspired to run and exercise and be healthy, too!

    Thank you and God bless you!!!

  12. Katie - that is so AWESOME!!! Way to go, keep it up!!! The more you do it - the more fun it gets. And races ... those are the absolute best!!

    Was any one there ringing a cowbell? :)

  13. I love your blog! The kids are so sweet!

  14. Hey smart blogger, Katie from Cheerios here. We thought your Cheerios counting post was so clever that we shared it with our friends on Facebook. Check it out here:

    Thanks for the great inspiration!

  15. Great idea! This would work so well for skip counting and grouping, too. Thanks for the tip!

  16. What a wonderful idea!! And when math time was done, snack time was already ready to go! Great job and good luck keeping up with your kiddos! :)