Counting and sorting are important activities for young children to practice, as they are necessary pre-math skills for the later development of addition, subtraction and those other “school age” math skills. As far as counting, there is actual counting; 1,2,3,4,5….and there is counting where objects are counted, and one to one correspondence is required. Both are important, as before a child can have one to one correspondence, and correctly count a group of objects, they will need to know the correct numerical order. Finally there is the step of recognizing the actual written number, and taking that information to the next step, of knowing how many objects each number represents.

So, remember those 50 or so plastic easter eggs that are stored in your garage, basement, closet? Here is a fun at home math activity that you can do as a family. Find some object which your family may collect, shells, pebbles, marbles (if safe for your children), or use a multicolored snack food, gold fish, skittles, etc. Fill some eggs with a variety of whatever item you are using, and then hide those eggs in your yard. Provide each child with a basket, bag, etc., and send them out to find those eggs. With younger children, as they find one, you can ask them what color it is, where did they find it, was it “on top” of a chair, “under” a table, “behind” the flower pot. This is a good literacy addition to the activity, and for younger children a chance to reinforce those developing skills of vocabulary, and places in space.

When the eggs are collected, have the children open them, and then depending on their age, use the contents to develop those math skills. How many eggs did you find? Help a younger child point to each egg and count. An older child can figure out how many each person found, then count the total number of eggs, to tell how many there were. Make sure the show them how that is a math problem. 5 +3+7=15. Elementary school children could do this activity along with younger siblings, and their eggs can contain pretend coins, which they could use to practice adding money, and other more advanced math skills.

The children can then count the objects found in their eggs, sort them by different categories such as colors, shapes, size, etc., then count how many are in each category. For children who are still young to be working on number recognition providing a paper with a number 1-10, will help children work on what the numbers look like, and then one to one correspondence as they work on putting the correct amount, on each number. If you are feeling like a little more math practice, you can work with the children to make a graph to represent how many of each category they found, and then talk about what the graph represents.

This is a fun activity for children to do over and over, in slightly different ways. For the next round, try having the children fill the eggs, and hide them for each other. To add a literacy component as each child to tell you where their eggs were found, or later where they hid them, and write their descriptions down, “behind the flower pot” is where the blue egg was. These can be kept and picked up later to talk about this activity later in the day, later in the week, and at the end of your summer, as retelling stories is an important part of developing literacy skills. Each child can even make their own book, by drawing pictures and either dictating what they want to say, or writing themselves.

I hope summer is off to a great start for everyone, in the event of a rainy day, this activity can be moved in doors. When stuck indoors video taping the hunt and letting the kids watch will add another fun component to this activity.