Mr Men Maths: Making a Number Tool Box

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What is a number tool box?  It is basically a box I can grab that has a few tools inside to teach number skills.  The number skills I want the little ones to learn are:

  • Number recognition (B2)
  • Counting (B2)
  • Ordering Numbers (B2)
  • Number bonds (A5)
  • Writing numbers (B2 and A5)

Making the Box

1)  Collect the following bits and pieces:

Ice cream tub, thin metal sheet for magnets, electrical tape, strong glue, permanent pen, foam sheets (I used self adhesive), magnet sheet or magnetic numbers
Ice cream tub, thin metal sheet for magnets, electrical tape, strong glue, permanent pen, foam sheets (I used self adhesive), magnet sheet or magnetic numbers

2)  Trim the metal sheet so that it fits snuggly inside the lid of the ice cream box.  I covered the edges with electrical tape to prevent them cutting someone (the edges were very sharp).  Glue the sheet onto the lid.

3)  Cut some foam to cover the side of the box and stick.  Cut out the Mr Man character.  I do this free hand because they really are a very simple shape.  I did a Mr Tickle.  I also cut out some numbers to indicate to me what the box contained (I will be making many more):

Here is how the box looks before filling it with activities.  The white sheet on top is the magnetic sheet and doubles up nicely as a place for A5 to practice her writing
Here is how the box looks before filling it with activities. The white sheet on top is the magnetic sheet and doubles up nicely as a place for A5 to practice her writing

Number Recognition and Counting Activities

1)  For some dice number fun I gathered some foam magnetic numbers, some foam, magnetic counters and a couple of dice:

The girls will throw the dice and find the corresponding number and count out that same amount of counters
The girls will throw the dice and find the corresponding number and count out that same amount of counters

A5 can also use these to practice her number bonds to 12.  She will do this by throwing two dice and bringing up the magnetic numbers on the board, with the corresponding number of counters.  She will then need to combine the two sets of counters and count them to find the sum of the two numbers shown on the dice.

2)  For some threading fun I made some Double sided Mr Men characters from foam.  One side I drew their face, the other I wrote a number.  Before I stuck the two sides together I placed a knotted pipe cleaner down the middle.  B2 would thread on the amount of beads written on the back of the Mr Men Characters:

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Ordering Numbers

1)  For the first number ordering activity I numbered some wooden sticks 1 – 10 and stuck on the corresponding number of mini Mr Men characters.  I decorated a mini dough pot and popped some plasticene inside (doesn’t dry out, unlike play dough):

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These could then be placed in ascending order (A5 and B2) and maybe even descending order (A5) into the plasticene:

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2)  The second number ordering activity I made by cutting out a large Mr Tickles from foam and sticking him onto a collection of 10 sticks.  I labelled each stick in order 1 -10 and cut down the length of each stick using a craft knife, separating out the sticks again.  The sticks would then be placed together to form, not only a Mr Tickles, but also ordered numbers 1 – 10:

Before cutting
Before cutting
After cutting
After cutting
Puzzle made up, ordering the numbers 1-10
Puzzle made up, ordering the numbers 1-10

Writing Numbers

This was simple.  I just included a white board pen.  The girls could then choose a magnetic number and place it on the board and attempt to copy it:

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All of these activities can fit in the box and each time over the next 9 months or so I want to work on their number skills it’s just a matter of pulling out this one box:

The bottom layer, everything bar the threading and pegs
The bottom layer, everything bar the threading and puzzle
All the goodies in the box, ready for our study of Mr Tickle next week.
And here are all the goodies in the box, ready for our study of Mr Tickle next week.

I intend to make many Mr Men themed boxes over the next few weeks.  They are intended to make schooling the little ones more ‘grab and go’, (the box not the children!) with everything in one place that I need in order to practice the concept or skill that I want to teach on that day.

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23 comments

  1. This is so cute! I bet they loved learning math with the kit. You put so much time and energy into your homeschooling. You must work at it 24/7 🙂

  2. I like this. In particular, all the colour. It must make it much more appealing for your children. Did it take you long to make?

    1. I do, but it’s so much fun! My mum says I’m the biggest kid in the house. After I’ve made something, of course, I have to try it out first. I’ve been known to fight a child for a toy….and heaven help anyone watching us play a board game together. We are all very noisy and very competitive. Yeah, my mum’s probably right.

    1. Thank you! I smile when I think of T11’s chosen school subjects this year (maths, general science and physics). They are all text book! I wonder if one can have too much hands on and he’s secretly wishing for a bit of peace and quiet!

  3. So very clever! Your mind must go round 24/7. I wish you would send some of your creativity and energy to me. Math looks like fun for the littles. Those boxes are super. Our ice cream comes in paper containers. Well, I guess when it comes to ice cream, as long as it is chocolate, it doesn’t matter the container:)
    Have a most excellent day, Claire!

    1. I sometimes wish I had an off button. Most nights actually, around 3am when I would really like to go to sleep but keep getting myself all excited about Mr Men or the Crusades. Sad but true! When I was at school I used to say to my mum that I didn’t see the point of sleep, it seemed such a waste of good time that could be put to much better use studying or reading or drawing or….Not so much these days. I need sleep now I have five children to look after, but it still refuses to come!
      And I completely agree re chocolate icecream. Who cares what it come in, so long as it’s there! We love vanilla with flake in it. Yum!

  4. Those numbered stick puzzles are pure genius…I must try them! I noticed you said “ready for our study of Mr. Tickle next week.”… So THAT’S how it’s supposed to work?! Much more sanity is kept when lessons aren’t prepared at 5am the morning of, lol. One day I’ll get there…

    1. Ha! Is that the impression I gave? Well, it’s always good to have the illusion of being organised. The reality is a somewhat distorted version of organised. Everything gets done in the end and I suppose that is what counts. But in this house it happens in a very haphazard way!

  5. I want to do something along these lines for my 4 year old – where do you get the metal whiteboard stuff for the top of the box and how do you then cut it to size? Sorry for the silly questions!

    1. Hi Jo, Not silly at all! We used a very cheap (about £1.50 white board in the sale at WHS (I’m not sure if you are in the UK or not). I simply removed the cardboard backing and plastic frame and cut with my kitchen sheers. In all honesty it probably did them some harm but it was all I had. Just be very careful of the metal once cut. It is lethally sharp and could do some serious damage. I tape the edges up with electrical tape which makes them completely safe and then stick them down on the ice cream lid with superglue. Hope that helps!

      1. Thank-you! We’re in New Zealand (although I was brought up in the southeast of England) so I’ll go hunting for something similar. Whiteboards here seem to cost hundreds of dollars!

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