This week we used apples for a math game called "Find the Worm". This game teaches counting and number recognition, and exposes the children to the concept of more and less. (This is not a concept I expect the children to learn, just something I feel they should be exposed to for success in math later in their education.)
Setting Up the Game
First you need a worm, ten apples with the numbers 1-10 written on them, a more arrow and a less arrow.
Set them up on a white board, easel, felt board, etc., like in the picture below.
I chose to use this as a large group game. But it would also work great in a small group setting or in a math center.
Playing the Game
First, explain that the worm likes to hide in the apples and they need to find the worm and stop him from eating the apples. Then, have the students close their eyes and hide the worm behind one of the apples. Have the students open their eyes. Next, we counted the apples 1-10 while we thought about where the worm might be hiding. Then I called students up one at a time to look under an apple for the worm. I would say what number the student chose to reinforce number recognition. If the worm was not under the apple, I would give the students a hint. The worm is under an apple more/less than the number they guessed. To visually expose the concept of more/less, I would move arrows underneath the apples as they guessed. For example, if the worm is under the 6 and they guessed 7. I would say, "The worm is under an apple less than 7." Then I would put the less arrow under the 7.
For the students who didn't understand that they needed to choose an apple between the arrows, I would use my hands to make a wall up from the more and less arrow and tell them to choose an apple between my hands. My 4 year olds seemed to get it pretty quickly, while my 3 year olds didn't seem to catch on. Though all the students loved the game and kept begging to play more. We ended up playing over 10 rounds throughout the day!
Eventually, a student would find the worm and we would all cheer!
This game can be adapted for many different themes. My TA suggested using trick-or-treat bags and hiding candy.
Happy Teaching! :)
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