Pretzels are good for teaching simple math to young children.

Math Activities Using Pretzels for Kids

by Kathy Gleason

Let's face it: math isn't always something kids get super excited about. So how can you get your older toddler or preschooler into a math exercise? Well, bribe them with a treat, of course! Using pretzels to practice math skills is an easy and inexpensive way to teach simple math concepts. And the bonus, of course, is that you and your child can share the pretzels as a snack when you're done.

1. Counting

Place several pretzels on the table in front of your child and ask her how many there are. If she doesn't know, walk her through the exercise. For example, lay a finger on one pretzel, say "One," and push it to the side. Then push the next one over to join it, saying "Two," and so on. As your child gets more proficient with numbers, add to how many you place in front of her at a time.

2. Sorting

You will need several different types of pretzels for this exercise. Either plain and chocolate and/or yogurt covered, or some traditional twist shape, some pretzel rods, and some small squares. Ask your child to put different pretzels in different piles. Show him what you mean if he seems confused. All of the chocolate pretzels should end up in one pile and the plain pretzels in another, for example.

3. Making Pretzel Patterns

Explain what a pattern is to your tot. Using pretzels, create a simple pattern. For example, pretzel rod, then two regular twist pretzels. Ask her to replicate your pattern herself. Be patient if it takes her a few tries to get it right, the concept of patterns can be a hard one for very young children to grasp.

4. Making a Math Graph

If your child is having fun with the math exercises and you're not completely bored with the lesson yet, take it a step farther. Take a piece of paper and along the bottom, write each kind of pretzel you have on you, like salted or chocolate. Along the right side of the paper, list every family member's name. Then go around to every member of the family with your child and have the child ask everyone their favorite kind of pretzel. Make a check mark next to each name above the appropriate answer. At the end, help her tally up the votes she got, for example, three people prefer salted pretzels and one likes chocolate. Prepare a color graph with markers or crayons with her to show the results: that in your household, most people like their pretzels salty.

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