Halloween Math Activities

Halloween math activities

What if you could take the excitement and fun of Halloween and combine it with writing numbers, counting, and all things math? These Halloween math activities are a great way to use all that this time of year offers. We’ve shared Halloween occupational therapy activities before, but these ideas are designed to boost math through play! Spooky learning ideas, ghost math, pumpkin adding…there is a lot of fun to be had!  What a fun way to learn and play!  

Halloween math activities to work on addition, subtraction, fact families, near doubles, and other math skills with a Halloween theme.

Fine Motor Halloween Math

There is much research telling us that fine motor skills predict math skills in kids, so why not add the fun of Halloween with fine motor activities? Studies show that motor skills are significantly related to their mathematical ability.

Here are Halloween fine motor activities that double as math activities for counting, sorting, patterns, and more.

Pumpkin Math

In this fine motor pumpkin sticker activity, we made our own pumpkin stickers, and used them in a Halloween literacy activity. But, they are perfect pumpkins for math skills too. Use the small pumpkins to count, add, work on place value, and to sort into arrays for multiplication and division.

This is a great Halloween math activity for pushing into the classroom or to use in home occupational therapy via OT teletherapy sessions. Kids will need only three materials:

  • Orange construction paper
  • Hole puncher
  • Pencil or marker

Ask kids to use the hole punch to punch orange circles onto their desk surface. They can use their pencil or marker to add a small stem to each pumpkin. Then, it’s time to sort, count, add, subtract, and arrange into piles of ten.

fine motor pumpkin stickers to count and build motor skills for math

Ghost Counting

This ghost craft is one of my favorite Halloween crafts here on the site. Save up a handful of bread ties and use them for math activities, sorting, counting, and adding/subtracting. The cute spooky manipulative is fun and not scary!

You’ll need just one material for this, but you can add them to any sensory tray like we did, using dry black beans:

  • White bread ties

Slide them onto pipe cleaners to count and sort by groups for counting and multiplying.

ghost counting activity

Spider Addition

Use this spider math craft to work on adding, subtracting, and fact families. You’ll need just a couple of materials:

  • Black construction paper
  • Scissors
  • White chalk, crayon, or colored pencil

Make the spider by following the directions in the spider math craft tutorial and then work on the math skills that your child needs to address. We used the creepy crawly craft to work on near doubles, but you could use this for any math facts!

Spider math craft

Scarecrow Place Value Activity

This scarecrow math activity is one way to work on place value math, but you could use it to build skills in understanding any addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division skills. Work on fact families, or writing numbers in different forms on each strand of the scarecrow’s hair. The options are pretty limitless! Be sure to check out the scarecrow craft tutorial for this activity.

There are a lot of fine motor skills happening with this Halloween craft, too!

scarecrow craft for a farm activities theme

More Halloween Learning Activities

halloween learning activities for preschool and toddlers. Math, science, literacy activities with a fall or Halloween theme.

Here are more Halloween learning ideas that build skills, including monster math, candy corn counting, fall math, and more!

Pumpkin Hunt Math from Still Playing School
Monster Math and Science from Artsy Momma
Candy Corn Literacy Games from Growing Book By Book
Pumpkin Name Game from Fantastic Fun and Learning
Candy Corn Math from From ABCs to ACTs
Fall Counting Activities from Preschool Inspirations
Fall Tree Number Matching from Mom Inspired Life

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Kindergarten Readiness and Executive Functioning Skills

Kindergarten readiness and developing executive functioning skills in kindergarten

Many parents of preschoolers have questions about preparing for kindergarten. There are kindergarten checklists and loads of resources online designed to address kindergarten readiness. One area that parents might miss when getting ready for kindergarten is the concept of executive functioning skills.

Executive functioning skills develop from very early in childhood! These skills can easily be developed through fun, age-appropriate play. Sound familiar? Combining learning and play in kindergarten is essential to build skills with an age appropriate awareness and at developmental levels. This is the exact way that children should be preparing for kindergarten!

Kindergarten readiness and developing executive functioning skills in kindergarten

Kindergarten Readiness

There is immense amount of pressure for children to be ready for the academic demands of
school, even from kindergarten. From the moment they walk in the door, most kindergartners
are pushed to be “little sponges” of the academic content to meet standards. However, most of us
recognize that this may not be the most appropriate approach to take. Finding engaging executive functioning activities can be tricky. The ideas here should be a great start to add to your kindergarten lesson plans or use in kindergarten preparations.


However, there are more child-friendly things that parents can do to help their children get ready
for kindergarten. Provide children with opportunities to be independent! Teach them the steps to
wash their hands (initiation, working memory, shifting, monitoring), how to blow their nose
(initiation, working memory, and monitoring), and letter recognition (working memory). Teach
them how to follow directions (impulse control, working memory, and shifting).

PREPARING FOR KINDERGARTEN WITH EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING SKILLS

Working on some kindergarten prep through play can involved executive functioning skills at the same time. Start here to understand exactly what executive functioning skills entail, but when it comes to kindergarten aged children, here are some of the executive functioning skills that can be addressed through play as well as tasks that will help them prepare for kindergarten:

Kindergarten lesson plans can include these reading and writing activities that build executive functioning skills

HandWriting in Kindergarten

Amazon affiliate links are included below.

Be sure to start by reading our resource on name writing for kindergarten to support the handwriting and fine motor skills needed in kindergarten, as this is a new skill for many 5 year-olds that are picking up a pencil for the first time. (Or preschool students that were rushed into pre-writing tasks.


There are many ways to integrate reading and writing preparation into play. Have your child match uppercase and lowercase letters in games or at the store. This encourages working memory (what letter they need to look for). Games like Zingo are great for teaching sight words in a fun way while also requiring a child to use their impulse control, shifting, and working memory.

More reading and writing for kindergarten:

Alphabet Discovery Bottle

Magnetic Letter Handwriting Game

Name Soup Writing Your Name 

Fizzy Dough Letters 

Handwriting Cookie Cutters

Kindergarten lesson plans can include these math activities to develop executive functioning skills to prepare for kindergarten

Math, Science, and Executive Functioning

Early math and science skills can be fun and easy to integrate into play! If the weather is
conducive, try hopscotch, saying the numbers out loud as you jump! For mental flexibility,
change the rules of how they go through the series: hop on one foot, jump on two feet, switch
feet, and so on. For older children or those who know their evens and odds, have them only jump
on the odds or only on evens.


For science, create simple science experiments, like vinegar and baking soda volcanos! This
requires initiation, monitoring, impulse control, shifting, and planning/organizing.

More kindergarten math activities to build executive function:

Caterpillar Math Craft 

Math with Checkers 

Cardboard Tangrams 

Play Dough Math 

Counting Nature 

Play and Executive Functioning

Play is critical, but with the push to be ready for academics, play is getting pushed to the side
However, without play, children suffer. They lack the ability to find joy in learning.

Outdoor play provides the opportunity for children to develop their executive functioning while
participating in child-led adventures! Taking a bike ride or a walk around the community, or
even playing basketball in a driveway, requires a child to demonstrate strong impulse control and
monitoring skills for safety. Red light, green light is also a great opportunity to work on impulse
control.

Outdoor play also encourages children to take risks while being aware of their surroundings.
Whether determining if cars are coming, stranger danger, or appropriate clothing to wear outside,
this is an incredible opportunity to encourage executive functioning development!


Can’t play outside? Build a fort! Planning/organizing, initiation, shifting, time management, and
working memory are critical for this.

Kindergarten play ideas to build executive function

Teaching Spatial Concepts 

Bugs and Beans Sensory Play 

Outdoor Small World Play 

Painting Toys in the Water Table 

Sticks and Stones Simple Sensory Play

Use these executive functioning games in kindergarten lesson plans and to prepare for kindergarten

Games and Activities to build executive functioning skills in kindergarten


Some family-friendly games include Outfoxed (initiation, working memory, monitoring,
planning/organizing, and impulse control) and Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game.

For less structured activities, think about making something in the kitchen, like baked goods. Making slime with a slime kit is another engaging way to build executive functioning skills.

For a less structured executive functioning activity, try making a bracelet from a bracelet kit that involves patterns or low-level direction-following.

For kindergarten readiness, focus on fun! This is a time of extensive growth, including in the
area of executive functioning.

For more executive functioning activities, grab this Executive Functioning Activity Guide. It’s full of strategies to address common executive functioning areas that impact working memory, attention, impulse control, organization, and more.

executive functioning skills activity guide The OT Toolbox

Place Value Scarecrow Craft

Scarecrow craft to help with math skills

Need a math craft idea that is perfect for this time of year? Look no further. This scarecrow craft can be used for any grade or age. Kids can be resistant to practicing extra math facts and practicing skills that they’ve learned in school or homeschool.  But often times, math skills like adding and composing numbers up to 1000 in this second grade math activity NEED additional practicing at home.  So how do you get that extra practice in without pulling teeth (or pulling out your own hair!)??  Playful Math activities make learning and practicing skills fun. We made this Math Scarecrow Craft to practice second grade math, including place value and composing numbers…but you can make it age-appropriate for preschool on up through elementary-aged kids.

 

Make this Scarecrow craft this Fall and practice math facts and addition or subtraction.  This is perfect for second grade math or any preschool or elementary age student, and a fantastic scissor skill exercise for kids.
 
 


Scarecrow Craft

 
This post contains affiliate links.  
 
To make this scarecrow craft, you’ll need a few materials:
Ivory Cardstock
scissors (THESE are my favorite brand and what I always recommended as a school-based OT!)
glue
Goldenrod cardstock
orange cardstock
Buttons, paper scraps, ribbons, etc.
Brown Paper Bag
 
Make this Scarecrow craft this Fall and practice math facts and addition or subtraction.  This is perfect for second grade math or any preschool or elementary age student, and a fantastic scissor skill exercise for kids.
 
To make the scarecrow craft (and totally sneak math into this Fall craft):


Scarecrow Craft for Kids

First, snip the Goldenrod cardstock into long strips about 1/2 inch wide.  Cutting the cardstock in long cutting lines is an excellent exercise in scissor skills.  The cardstock provides a thicker resistance than construction or printer paper.  This added resistance provides feedback to kids who are working on line awareness and smooth cutting lines.  
 
You can draw lines on the cardstock with a pencil/pen, or if the child needs more assistance with scissor skills, make the lines with a thick marker.  Cutting the long strips of cardstock require the child to open/shut the scissors with smooth cutting strokes as they cut along the lines.  Cutting all of the hair straw strands for the scarecrow craft is quite an exercise in scissor skills!
 
Next, you’ll have the child cut a large circle from the Ivory Cardstock.  We used a bowl and traced a circle, but you could also have the child draw their own circle.  This will become the face of the scarecrow.  Cutting a circle with smooth cutting strokes is a more difficult task for children than cutting strait lines.  Kids may need verbal and physical prompts to cut along the curved line with accuracy.
 
You can draw a hat-ish shape from the brown paper bag.  I say hat-ISH because a scarecrow often has a floppy and battered hat on his head, so a hat shape that looks mostly like a hat is just about perfect for this scarecrow craft!  
 
Kids can cut the hat shape and may require more assistance with this part.  Cutting a material like a brown paper bag is more difficult than cutting regular printer paper, so the flimsy-ness of the paper requires more skill and accuracy with scissor control and line awareness.  
 
Jagged lines make this scarecrow look authentic, though, so feel free to add more snips and cuts into the hat, too!
 
Make this Scarecrow craft this Fall and practice math facts and addition or subtraction.  This is perfect for second grade math or any preschool or elementary age student, and a fantastic scissor skill exercise for kids.
 
Next, you will crumble up the paper hat shape.  My daughter really got into this part. “Crumble up this paper?? Awwww Yeah!”
 
Crumbling paper is a great fine motor strengthening exercise for children.  They really strengthen the intrinsic muscles of their hands with paper crumpling.  What a workout this scarecrow craft is!
 
Glue the hat in place on the scarecrow’s head.

 

Make this Scarecrow craft this Fall and practice math facts and addition or subtraction.  This is perfect for second grade math or any preschool or elementary age student, and a fantastic scissor skill exercise for kids.
 

Scarecrow Math Craft

 
To make the hair of the scarecrow, glue the goldenrod strips on the head and along the hat.  Cut a triangle from the orange cardstock for the scarecrow’s nose.  Use buttons, paper scraps, and ribbons to dress up your scarecrow, adding eyes, mouth, and any other decorations.  We received the buttons we used to make the eyes from our pals at www.craftprojectideas.com.  Add a smile and your scarecrow is ready to decorate walls and doorways this Fall!
 
But wait!  Make this cute scarecrow into a Math activity that the kids will Fall in love with.  Yep, I went there.
 


Place Value Craft

To incorporate math into this scarecrow craft, use those paper strips.  We made this activity perfect for practicing second grade addition skills.  
 
My second grader has been working on building numbers up to 1000.  On the strips, I wrote a three digit number on the end of many of the paper strips.  She then chose different ways to describe that number.  She wrote out the number in words on some strips.  
 
On other strips, she built the three digit number using Common Core strategies.  For example, I wrote the number 421 on one strip.  She demonstrated how to “build” that number by writing “400 + 20 + 1”.  This technique helped her practice skills she’s learned at school while understanding what makes up a three digit number.  She was able to identify the hundreds, tens, and ones in a three digit number.  Work on and discuss place value and number order with this activity.
 

The nice thing about this scarecrow craft is that you can adjust the math to fit any age…or just make the craft without the math facts for a super cute Fall Scarecrow!

 
Make this Scarecrow craft this Fall and practice math facts and addition or subtraction.  This is perfect for second grade math or any preschool or elementary age student, and a fantastic scissor skill exercise for kids.
 

Scarecrow Math Tips

How can you make this Math Scarecrow Craft work for your child’s needs?  Try these ideas:
 
  • Adjust the activity slightly by working on math facts.  Write a number on the end of the strip and ask your child to write the addition or subtraction problem on the length of the hair.
  • Write the SAME number on the end of each strip.  Ask your child to write each strip with different math addition problems that make up different ways to reach the number.  For example, write the number 16 on each strip.  Your child can write 8+8 on one strip, and other strips with 10+6, 12+4, 20-4, etc.

More Scarecrow Activities

Looking for more scarecrow activities? Below are scarecrow activities for kids that cover a variety of areas: math, language arts, art, and more. 
 
Stop by and see what our friends have come up with using this week’s Scarecrow theme:
 
Scarecrow Syllables for Second Grade – Use a scarecrow activity to help with early literacy skills in this creative scarecrow activity from Look! We’re Learning! 
  
Scarecrow Measures – Another scarecrow math activity, this one from Crafty Kids at Home is a fun addition to a Fall themed learning plan. 
 
Scarecrow Silhouette Art Project – A Scarecrow craft that the kids will love is fun to add to your therapy plan. Use this idea from School Time Snippets. 
 
Scarecrow Compound Word Match Game – Work on more literacy using this idea from Creative Family Fun.
 
Scarecrow Craft with Landscape Another scarecrow craft the kids will love, use this one from Sallie Borrink Learning to work on scissor skills, too.
 
 

More of our Creative Math ideas:

Fine Motor Precision Math Engineering Activity

This fine motor activity is one that works on the super small motor skills of the hands.  We’ve shared tips and ideas for building precision of grasp and release before, and this is one more way to build those skills, with a math and engineering twist.  If your kids are anything like mine, then they love blocks.  If I pull out a bin of blocks, then we’ve got ramps, castles, and houses all over the living room floor.  They are an imagination booster and it really is so much fun to see where the creativity goes with just a bin of blocks.  The OT in me loved this activity for it’s creative math twist and for it’s fine motor power punch!

Help kids build their fine motor skills especially precision of grasp and release with this foam block and clay math engineering activity that addresses shapes and vertices.

 

What is precison of grasp and release?



(This post contains affiliate links.)

 
Precision handling of very small items with controlled movement is necessary for dexterity in functional grasp.  To manipulate items with small motor motions, the hand needs to be in a functional position.  The index and middle digits must oppose the thumb with tip-to-tip finger contact and interphalangeal joint range of motion.  opening and closing the grasp on items with control is precision and allows the hand to grasp small objects from a refined area and enables the hand to release objects in a specific location.  



Precision in of grasp and release allows us to pick up a specific colored bead from a tray of many colors and place it on a string.  We used foam blocks and small balls of clay to practice precision of grasp and release.

 

Fine Motor Precision Activity

Help kids build their fine motor skills especially precision of grasp and release with this foam block and clay math engineering activity that addresses shapes and vertices.

Rolling balls of clay develops the intrinsic muscle strength of the hands.  It opens up the thumb web space and encourages flexion of the interphalangeal joints in the fingers.  Once we had rolled a collection of small clay balls, we used them to work on precision grasp and release with the foam blocks.

Help kids build their fine motor skills especially precision of grasp and release with this foam block and clay math engineering activity that addresses shapes and vertices.

One area that my kids have discussed in both kindergarten and second grade this year is the term vertices.  We talked about the number of vertices on different shapes and placed a small clay ball on each vertice.  Carefully placing the clay on each corner required precision to pick up the clay and to place it precisely on the corner.

Help kids build their fine motor skills especially precision of grasp and release with this foam block and clay math engineering activity that addresses shapes and vertices.

Math Engineering Activity

Once we had each corner covered with clay, we thought it would be fun to engineer a tower.  It was fun to explore the different ways we could build the towers using graded controlled movements to prevent the whole tower from falling.  


This was such a fun exercise in fine motor skills and one we’ll be doing again!

learning activities using foam blocks



Looking for more learning activities with foam blocks?  Try these:



Roll a CVC Word Game from Mom Inspired Life


Sticky Foam Blocks from Teach Me Mommy


Making Ten Math Activity from School Time Snippets


Foam Blocks Stacking Activity from Something 2 Offer

Help kids build their fine motor skills especially precision of grasp and release with this foam block and clay math engineering activity that addresses shapes and vertices.



If you liked this activity, you’ll love these:

 Motor Planning Fine Motor Maze hand strengthening activity

Recycled Materials STEM Lever and Fulcrum

I love reusing recyclables in crafts and activities.  One thing my kids might love even more is science and STEM activities.  We decided to use some materials we had in the recycle bin to make a lever and fulcrum.  This is a perfect STEM activity to do with the kids over the summer to promote learning, creativity, and problem solving.  The Summer Slide is a real thing and simple, easy projects like this one are fun ways to build skills as a family.  Our Lever and Fulcrum STEM activity led to cheers with all four of the kids. This is a fun STEM fine motor activity kids will love.

 
And when the kids are cheering for science, engineering, and math, it is perfectly OK for Mom to do an inner cheer, too.
Build a lever and fulcrum with recycled materials in this STEM activity that is perfect for kids to do over the summer at home or at summer camp to prevent the summer slide!

Recycled Materials Lever and Fulcrum STEM Activity

 
There are so many items found in your recycle bin that can be used in STEM activities.  Today, we pulled out a few materials to build a lever and fulcrum.  We used a recycled chopstick, a toilet paper tube, and two coffee pods.  

Build a lever and fulcrum with recycled materials in this STEM activity that is perfect for kids to do over the summer at home or at summer camp to prevent the summer slide!
To make the lever and fulcrum:  Poke a hole in each of the coffee pods.  We used a sharp skewer to do this.  you will want the holes to be at the same height on each pod.  Insert one end of the chop stick into each pod.  Finally, fold the toilet paper tube into a triangular shape. The cardboard tube will be the fulcrum and the chop stick can rest evenly on the tube and act as a lever. 
Build a lever and fulcrum with recycled materials in this STEM activity that is perfect for kids to do over the summer at home or at summer camp to prevent the summer slide!
Now for the fun part:  It was time to play and learn with our STEM activity!
  • We added crafting pom poms to each cup and counted how many were needed to keep the lever even.  
  • We talked about the distance between the ends of the chop stick and how the fulcrum needed to be in the center in order for the lever to be even.  
  • We tried moving the fulcrum and measured the distance between the ends of the chop stick and the fulcrum.  
  • When the fulcrum was off center, we counted how many craft pom poms were needed to make the lever even again. 
I was kind of amazed at how much all four of my kids were totally absorbed by this STEM activity.  It was enough to make me smile (and cheer some more, on the inside!) for their love of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Build a lever and fulcrum with recycled materials in this STEM activity that is perfect for kids to do over the summer at home or at summer camp to prevent the summer slide!

STEM Summer Camp

 

Second Grade Math Outdoor Learning Idea

There is nothing like learning in the great outdoors.  The breeze in your hair, the birds tweeting, and bugs getting involved in the outdoor classroom.  Learning outside with the kids is a fun twist on the everyday math homework!  We love to spend time outdoors.  And, I love to sneak learning activities into our play.  This Math Scavenger Hunt idea was a fun way to practice second grade math concepts like adding and subtracting two digit numbers.  Our math rocks made this move and learn activity extra fun.
 
We’ve shared quite a few outdoor learning activities on the blog before.  The favorite in our back yard was this pre-reading literacy activity.  We even used a few of the same hiding places for today’s math activity.
 
Outdoor learning math ideas and creative movement activity using rocks for second grade math addition and subtraction ideas.

Outdoor Math Activity for Kids

 
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To start with, we used rocks to create math manipulatives.  These pebbles were collected from a trip to our camp this past summer and painting them was a fun way to recall summer memories.  You can use rocks of any size or shape for this activity.  Just be sure to use acrylic paint so that the color doesn’t flake off of the rock’s surface.  I love this brand of acrylic paints for it’s price! We painted both sides of the rocks in different colors.  You can paint your rocks all one color or mix it up a bit.  We went for the colorful approach.  For the numbers, I used a paint marker.  Be sure to allow the paint to dry before writing on the numbers.
 
When the paints have all dried, you are ready to take these math rocks outside for learning and play!
 
Outdoor learning math ideas and creative movement activity using rocks for second grade math addition and subtraction ideas.

Outdoor Learning Math Ideas

 
We played a few different games with our math rocks.
 
Outdoor learning math ideas and creative movement activity using rocks for second grade math addition and subtraction ideas.
  • I hid a bunch of the rocks in a small area of our yard.  I had my second grader search for two rocks at a time.  When she brought them back, I asked her to add or subtract the numbers.
  • We used specific numbers in a small area of the yard.  I named a large number and had her find two rocks that added up to that number.  (We have enough rocks that we were able to number them 0-100 using both sides of the rocks, so this worked out easily.)
  • Using smaller numbers, I showed her two numbers.  She had to go off and look for the missing number in a math subtraction equation. 
Outdoor learning math ideas and creative movement activity using rocks for second grade math addition and subtraction ideas.
How would you use these math rocks to play?
 
Looking for more outdoor learning ideas? Try some of these:

Nests Nature Hunt for Kids from Still Playing School


Outside Arrays for Multiplication Practice from Line Upon Line Learning


Sidewalk Chalk Outdoor Math Game from Look! We’re Learning!


Gardening For Math Time from Preschool Powol Packets



Tree Unit Study and Science Experiment from Schooling a Monkey

Outdoor learning math ideas and creative movement activity using rocks for second grade math addition and subtraction ideas.
Outdoor learning math ideas and creative movement activity using rocks for second grade math addition and subtraction ideas.

Lemon Battery Science Experiment

Lemon STEM activity

Lemon STEM is such a fun way to explore concepts of making a lemon battery and kid-made batteries, and this discovery activity is a powerful tool for promoting science and exploration in kids. Plus, this lemon science experiment is easy to do (and clean up)!

Lemon Battery

I am one of three sisters.  You might remember that this blog started out as a meeting place for us gals to share our ideas.  Well, times change and blogs change, but there is one thing that never changes:  sisters.  You grow up with them, you fight with them, you make some crazy funny memories with them, you grow up some more, and then you laugh at those memories. (And occasionally you laugh so hard you spit out water…causing more laughter.) 
 
There is one thing for certain.  Sisters have a bond that is like no other.  
 
So, when I became a mama to three little girls (and their super-chill brother), I was over the moon and back to watch these sisters grow just like I did with my two siblings.  Now that they are getting a little older, I can see my oldest nurture the younger ones and the little sisters look up to their big sis.  (And I won’t lie.  They fight.  Like Mom-wants-to-fly-back-to-the-moon-and-stay-there kind of fighting.)  But happily playing or fighting, they are sisters.
 
One thing I love to watch is when these girls play.  They’ve got some super sweet scenarios that happen on a daily basis.  Playtime in our house involves clipboards, checklists, tons of purses, glue, and the occasional microphone.  The big two have big imaginations and even bigger hearts and it is so fun to watch my youngest look up the them with wide eyes and take it all in.  
 
As a mom, I’ve noticed that my girls watch.  They watch what I do, they watch what each other does, and they notice.  So, when I had the opportunity to introduce them to lemon STEM activities, I jumped at the chance.  
 
Introduce them to creativity through STEM?  Sounds great! Encourage my children to get excited about science and math? YES! Unleash natural potential in my girls by experiencing science projects? I like it. 
Lemon STEM ideas for kids
 


 
 
And the best for me, was watching my girls do this together.  The baby saw her big sister in safety goggles as she learned about cathodes and electrolytes…and has been wearing the goggles every day since.  Seeing them inspire each other was just awesome.
 
We were making lemon powered batteries! 
 

What is a lemon battery?

A lemon battery is a simple science experiment kids can do to explore concepts of conduction and reaction. In the lemon-powered battery experiment, kids can see how electrolytes are conducted through the lemon and wires in order to power a light or clock. 
 
The experiment is simple set up, easy, and a fun way to explore science!
 
 

Lemon Science Experiment

 
When I first showed the girls the items and explained what we were doing, they were very excited about lemon electricity! I was surprised to read that only 1 in 1,000 girls pursue STEM careers, especially considering that out us us three sisters, two of us are in the health/science field.  Encouraging my girls to explore interests in science is important to me and I was super pumped to get my girls excited about our science experiment…and the enthusiasm was catchy!
 
We used a lemon in our fruit battery, but you could use any citrus fruit to make a citrus battery…oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes all work equally well in this kid-made battery experiment. 

 

Lemon STEM Ideas

We created the lemon-powered battery, but then used the battery in a STEM activity by adding engineering and math to the mix.
 
We pulled out all of the items in our lemon experiment box:
  • LED Bulb
  • 4 Lemons ( not included )
  • Alligator Clips
  • Zinc Nails 
  • Copper Wire (or a penny)
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Pin
  • wipes
  • Mini Clock
  • Recording sheet

 
Lemon STEM Science experiment ideas for kids
 
And we got started on our STEM project.  The instructions were printed out with easy to follow images.  
 
Lemon STEM Science experiment ideas for kids
 
First, we used the convenient wipes to swipe away a few of the the baby’s sticky crumbs from our dining room table.  (Sticky toddlers love science, too.)
 
Lemon STEM Science experiment ideas for kids
 
Lemon STEM Science experiment ideas for kids
 
 
  • Following the instructions, my eight year old build a lemon powered battery that lit up a light bulb.  We tried a few more experiments, like the mini fruit clock that came in the kit.  We used it to make a lemon clock!
 
  • We pulled out some bamboo skewers and created a sky high lemon battery and lit up the light bulbs using engineering in our STEM activity.
 
  • With all of the zinc nail-punctured holes in our lemons, we HAD to squeeze the juice.  We tried to see if we could create a lemon clock using just the lemon juice in a cup.  It worked!  
 
  • After the lemons were juiced, we tried to make another light bulb glow using the rinds.  This time the lights did not brighten and we decided it was because the electrolytes were squeezed away into our lemon juice and the current stopped at the rind.  
Next, we used wooden skewers to create a clock tower. Press the skewers into the lemons and create a tower. You’ll need to figure out how to get the clock tower to stand without toppling, and using lemons as the base or at the connecting points. These lemons can also be connected to one another with the alligator clips, wires, and pennies or nails to conduct through the whole tower. 
 
After all of these experiments, we were feeling a little thirsty.  Non-lemon powered light bulbs went off and so my four year old had a bright idea to make lemonade.  We added water and sugar and drank away the electrolytes!
 
It was so much fun to see my girls working together, encouraging each other, (not fighting), and being inspired in science.  Someday they might look back at our experiment day and laugh at drinking their science experiment, but I’ll remember the sticky crumbs on the table, the goggles on the one year old, and the fun we all had learning together.
 
Lemon STEM Science experiment ideas for kids
 
 
 
Lemon STEM Science experiment ideas for kids

 

Lemon STEM Science experiment ideas for kids
 
Looking for more STEM ideas for kids?  You will love these:
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AM PM Time Telling with Shopkins

AM PM time activities

Here we used a small manipulative to teach the difference between am and pm. Am and pm activities are great for helping kids to understand time and management of time. Much like this rock clock activity, the use of small manipulatives helps to build skills such as eye-hand coordination through play. It’s another activity to teach time to kids that uses fun and imaginative play!

Am PM Activity for Kids

I stepped on one again.


A little plastic toy that seems innocent enough, but it’s actually much like stepping on a hot knife. Aka a LEGO.

Only after you’re limping from the wounds of stepping on it, this cute little plastic toy just smiles back at you.  

Shopkins.

If your house is like mine, you’ve got a zillion Shopkins in tins, in plastic sorting containers, and escaping onto the floor only to stab innocent passing feet in the night.  They are little pieces of pink plastic figures that are…a little strange…and your kids know ever single name and every single one they own.  

So, how do you battle the never-ending Shopkins fad?  If you can’t beat ’em (Because they sure are beating up my feet!), then you join ’em!  

We used our Shopkins in a learning activity to practice time telling skills, including differentiating between AM and PM.

Teach am and pm with shopkins or any small toy using this hands on approach to teaching time.

am pm activities, am pm for kids, am pm sorting acivity, am pm visual

AM PT Sorting Activity

In this activity, we used small toys to sort between am and pm activities. The AM/PM visual was a great way to get buy-in for our kids. They LOVE Shopkins. But you could use any small figures in this same activity.

This post contains affiliate links.


For this activity, we used our (Amazon affiliate link) Shopkins on a hand drawn clock.  I pulled out a few colors of play dough to use as movable clock hands.  

As we moved the hands around the clock to different positions, I had my daughter tell me the ways to read the clock.  We used both hours (10:15) and words (a quarter after ten) to describe the time.


We then added the Shopkins to the activity.  I had my daughter grab one of the Shopkins.  I moved the hands around the clock to a new time and then asked my daughter to tell me if the Shopkin would be used in the am or the pm.    


Depending on the position of the clock hands, a Shopkin could be used in an AM or PM activity:  A toast Shopkin would be used at 8:15 AM and not 8:15 PM.  The Slippers Shopkin would be used at 11:45 PM and not 11:45 PM.  The cake Shopkin would be used at 2:30 PM and not 2:30 AM.

Use small toys to sort am and pm activities.

My daughter had fun coming up with different scenarios with all of the Shopkins.  

We got a lot of time telling practice and the cute little plastic toys stayed safely on the table and off of the floor where they could cause me any more foot injuries!

Learning with Small Toys

Mini-figures like Shopkins or small animal toys are great manipulatives for learning concepts.

With small toys like mini-figures, children get the buy-in and motivation to play with preferred toys and characters.

However, there is the fine motor benefit happening too. Children can play with small toys and incorporate fine motor development such as:

  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Precision
  • Graded grasp
  • Pincer grasp
  • Separation of the sides of the hand
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Wrist development

By placing the small toys onto a specific spot they develop motor and precision skills that can be carried over to functional tasks…not to mention the play factor!

A final note on AM PM activities

When kids are confident with time concepts such as AM and PM and the passage of time, they are more confident in time management and other executive functioning skills. Read more about using a timer in handwriting and timed tasks to encourage time management during a functional task.

Teaching kids how to tell time and AM PM differentiation with Shopkins and a hands on learning activity for math.



Do you have Shopkins all over your house, too?  Let me know if you use Shopkins in a time telling activity like this one! I would love to hear about it.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.