Kids are like marbles

In addition to teaching Kindergarten, 2nd grade, and partially 3rd-4th grades at the Main Line Classical Academy, I am also continuing to teach enrichment math at the Golden Key Russian School.  There, I have two groups of Kindergartners, one group of 3rd-4th graders, and one group of 5th-6th graders.


Last week with the Kindergartners we focused on different ways of making 10 out of two smaller numbers.  We first figured out the ways using our fingers and then wrote them out using digits on the board.

The next activity was a bit more tricky.  We took out ten marbles and counted them together carefully.  Then, all the kids had to close their eyes and I put some of the marbles into the cup.  When they opened their eyes, the kids had to guess how many marbles were hiding in my cup.

At first this was very challenging for the kids; they would make random guesses and ask questions like “how can I know how many you hid?”  But then, one by one, they started to catch onto the trick.  The cup and marbles then went around the room and each kid had a turn at hiding some of the marbles while the other closed their eyes.

How many did I hide?


Now lets take them out and see whether you guessed correctly.


Now the next person gets to hide the marbles.


And a few more.



At the end of the class we played a similar game but only with kids instead of marbles!  One person would close their eyes and some of the remaining kids would hide under a blanket.  Then the person who was “it” would open their eyes and had to determine how many kids were under the blanket.  There were seven kids total.

Here is what it looked like:




The classic mistake was for kids to forget to count themselves.  Then I would ask them, “How many kids are not hiding under the blanket?”  When they would say the number of kids they saw, I’d follow up with, “So you’re hiding under the blanket?”  And then they’d laugh.

I love activities that use kids as manipulatives!


About aofradkin

I enjoy thinking about presenting mathematical concepts to young children in exciting and engaging ways.
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2 Responses to Kids are like marbles

  1. Show work says:

    This was a lovely activity. I enjoyed the faces on my he children who had to close their eyes.


  2. Pingback: Great Classroom Action – dy/dan

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