Thursday, February 27, 2014

Busy Bags: Pre-School Math (Bear Patterns, Butterfly Symmetry, Numbers in the Sand)

For the past couple years, we have been getting very restless come February.  That gets me in the mood to put together some "busy bag" activities for Theodore to keep him from going too crazy with cabin fever. So, I'm going to be putting up a handful of our favorite activities and busy bags.

In addition to some activities that focus on shape and number identification, I wanted to put together some more math inspired ones for my just turned four-year-old.

I bought these counting bears on sale at a teacher store years ago, and they have had quite the life getting carried all around in dump trunks, shot down the bobsled ramp, working on one-to-one correspondence, and used as cargo on the railroad.  They were a big part of color sorting with Theo was younger, and now I wanted him to be able to explore patterns with them.

Materials:  counting bears, pattern cards (I can email you a set if you ask), construction paper (optional) and laminator (optional)

Assembly:  I found an image for each color bear, and then started making the typical ABAB, AABB, ABCABC patterns in Microsoft Word.  On some I left space for the pattern to be continued while on others I inserted blank boxes in between bears to be filled in.  After this I cut mine out, backed with construction paper, and laminated them for long life.

Activity:  Have your child pick which cards he would like to complete, and they can continue patterns or fill in the empty boxes.  Be sure to check for accuracy.

I fell in love with this one the first time I saw it, as I'm a huge lover of all types of symmetry, plus, butterflies are such a popular subject for children's literature and science activities.

Materials:  butterfly pieces printed on cardstock from here, felt, laminator (optional)

Assembly:  Cut out the felt pieces as directed.  Laminate butterfly cards if desired.  *If you choose to make blanks, you will need to cut out extra pieces of the wings as there are only one of each color.*

Activity:  Model how to set up the butterfly and create a mirror image with the felt pieces, and then let your child go.  With my child, he first wanted to use the cards more as puzzles, finding the circles and wedges that fit on each wing.  As a young four-year-old, this has been a challenging activity for him so far but he keeps chugging away at it.

This one is not so much a bag, but is a great activity I saw that I wanted to share.

Materials:  container (the wooden card holders from Melissa and Doug work great), sand, numeral cards, roller (optional)

Assembly:  Pour clean sand into container.

Activity:  I used some number bean bags for this, and simply had Theodore pick a bean bag, and then try to trace that number in the sand.  He decided he would like a "roller" from his play-do set to help him smooth the sand out after each number and I thought that was a great idea.  He went through and did all the numbers, some with more success than others.


Trying to go green said...

Can you email me a copy of the bear cards angiekunst @ att. Net

ny-ny said...

Hi Shannon,

I just love, love, love your butterfly symmetry activity! Awesome!
Can you email be a copy of the bear pattern cards? Would like to try that too.
Thank you!
email to

Anonymous said...

Hi can you email me a copy of the bear pattern cards? My emails is

Rosie said...

I love these butterfly symmetry cards and felt activity. The link is not taking me to the files. Help!