Friday, October 03, 2014

Simple Tally Marks Math Tray for Kids

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Looking for a hands-on way to practice tally marks counting with kids? Try this simple tally marks math tray!

My oldest J recently showed an interest in learning about tally marks. He's already a skip counting pro. Even by obscure numbers like 12 despite being only five. That's hypernumeracy for you! Like everything math and number related, he quickly understood the concept of tally marks.

To follow his interests - and his lead - we started doing more activities involving tally marks.

Sure we could have downloaded one of many printable tally worksheets that you can find out there. Or practiced drawing tally marks. Or making up some kind of tally graph using some raw data we collected or something. But we much prefer hands-on play around here.

So I set up this super simple tally marks math tray for him. Although my youngest, K, also joined in to practice some counting.

A simple tally marks math tray that gives kids hands-on practice counting tally marks

What You'll Need for this Counting Tally Marks Math Tray

This math activity tray is super simple to set up. Here's what we used:

  • Giant homemade foam numbers - You can use whatever number manipulatives you like. That might mean number magnets, foam bath numbers, playing cards...Really anything goes! Try to use what you have on hand. My son is quite fond of our homemade foam numbers so we use them for as many activities as we can.
  • Colored craft sticks or similar - I guess they don't have to be colored. They look cooler though. However, again, use what you have on hand. Any kind of stick like object can be used for counting tally marks.

I put all of the materials on a wooden tray for him to explore and use as he'd like. My guess was that he would opt to do larger numbers...let's see what he did for this math activity!

Tally mark math tray with foam numbers and colored craft sticks

Your Kids are Going to Love this Simple Tally Marks Counting Activity!

The idea behind this activity was to pick a number and count up to the number using tally marks, like below:

Tally marks counting with colored craft sticks

J has been exposed to tally marks in a variety of ways, including reading about them in this cute picture book called Tally O'Malley. So I knew he would enjoy this activity. He started off tallying numbers like 17 and 20.

Child counting tally marks with colored craft sticks

A child who can count tally marks

Then he went a bit higher to 26, counting out tally sticks one by one...

Using colored craft sticks to count tally marks up to 26

Then he kept going higher and higher. Thankfully, not too much higher because he would have run out of craft sticks! But here is J counting tally marks for the number 40.

A child doing a math tally marks activity using colored craft sticks

Then J practiced some skip counting by fives to double check that he counted correctly, which, of course, he did. Math is his thing, after all.

Child skip counting by five as part of a math tally marks activity

My youngest K also joined in on this math tray. Obviously, he doesn't understand the concept of tally marks quite yet (he's only 3!), but I was happy to see him count out the correct number of craft sticks anyway.

Preschooler counting out craft sticks

While this activity was super easy to set up, both of my boys enjoyed it. So if you're looking for a hands-on way to practice tally marks math, then give this activity a try!

Other Tally Mark Activities Your Kids are Going to Love!

Fine Motor Tally Marks Buy Bag Activity

Counting Tally Marks on the Light Table

Learning Tally Marks with Magnetic Tiles

A simple tally marks math tray that gives kids hands-on practice counting tally marks