I have several new ideas sketched out for play dough math mats, and as I create them, I will add them to the blog. I will also make a new webpage where you will be able to locate all of the play dough math mats I make. [Update: the webpage with more play dough mats is now online.] Since we are currently exploring Safari Animals in our class this month, the first set of play dough mats is called “Feed the Giraffe“.
The top of each mat says “Give the giraffe [#] leaves.” Children will identify the numeral, and count out that amount of leaves to place on the tree for the giraffe. I’m calling these play dough math mats, because the children can create the leaves with bits of green play dough to place on the mat. However, you do not have to use play dough. You can also use green flat floral marbles for leaves or cut out simple leaf shapes from green craft foam. Or, you could spray paint lima beans green. I also have in my collection of manipulatives, a set of green plastic leaves that came with a bag of colored Fall leaves. I bought those at Michaels during the Fall. Use what you prefer, but I chose play dough as a manipulative because this way, we also accomplish the ever-important fine motor skills at the same time we are doing math.
I also made a mat that does not have a number, but simply says “Feed the giraffe some leaves.” This mat is for toddlers who are not ready for counting yet, but need to practice fine motor skills with play dough.
Click these images to download the play dough mats:
A good book to read with this activity is called “Feeding Time” by Lee Davis. The book explores the different types of foods that animals living on the African Savannah like to eat.