Candy hearts can make a great manipulative for all sorts of math activities, here are 5 of our favorite ways to use them.
Please note, this post has been updated with new printables and new links since originally posting.
1. Count Them
It seems simple enough, but just counting them is fun for kids and is incredibly important in developing early math skills. Counting objects practices counting in order as well as connecting a number to an amount of something.
2. Graph Them
This is a classic primary grade activity around Valentine's Day. Using a candy heart graph means kiddos are sorting the hearts by color, determining how much of each color, and beginning to compare amounts. With questions, some ideas we explored included; which color has the most, which color has the least, how many more does yellow have than green, etc. A hands on graph like this also means kiddos start to understand what type of information is being shown on a graph and how to "read it".
3. Create Patterns
Creating and recognizing patterns are skills which create a base for several other math skills (addition, skip counting, sequencing just to name a few.) Big Brother liked making two color patterns with the hearts.
4. More or Less Game
After kids have worked on counting and recognizing amounts, then they can play with recognizing which amounts are more, or less. We started our game with a game board with two hearts, one dice, and 20 candy hearts. We each took a turn rolling a dice and would place our candy into the hearts on the mat. Whoever had more hearts got to keep theirs off to the side, while however had less had to put them back in the bank. We played until there were no hearts left.
This game practices matching the amount on the dice, counting both the dots on the dice and the candies, and a little bit of strategy around which color heart to take. We each had a play mat, a dice to share, and a couple of good handfuls of candy hearts to share. We took turns rolling the dice and counting out that amount of candies into our small hearts. The first person to get five of each color "wins." (Side note, we had to tweak the rules a little last week as our bag only came with a few blue hearts. But, our second bag this week was more evenly mixed.)
We can't wait to hear if kiddos in your house also enjoyed these games and activities. Don't have candy hearts? Get creative. Depending on the game or activity you can use other candies, buttons, pompoms, pennies, etc. to play. Kids are developing their math skills, but don't even realize it as they're usually have lots of fun (and getting a few sweet snacks in as well.)
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