Our take home math bags in preschool

I found these bags at our local Dollar Tree. They were 2 for $1.oo each and I knew that they would be perfect for our take home math bags…

A math bag was sent home with each child.  We added each child’s name on their bag as well. The children take home their bags each Thursday and bring them back by the following Thursday…

Instructions were sent home to the parents as well. They are to help their child collect no more than five items each week to put in the bag. The items should be small and something that the children (or parents) will not mind donating to our school. For example: acorns, plastic lids, coke tabs, rocks, buttons, and so on….

On math day, the children will share what they brought to school (sort of like show and tell) and then they will all sort the items into baskets. All the acorns will go in one basket and so on.  We will graph the number of items each child brought, count the items, and use them for making patterns and games…

Each child can choose five different items to bring or they can be all the same. The reason for bringing five or less items is because when we combine all the items from the entire class together – it makes for a lot of graphing, sorting, and counting…

The parents get to be involved just a bit too which is always a plus for opening conversations about preschool at home! This is our first week for bringing our math bags to school so I will be sure to share more as we go along.

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By |2017-03-30T23:37:16+00:00September 14th, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Vanessa @Pre-K Pages September 14, 2011 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    I love how you incorporated math with show and tell, brilliant! I bet the children just love filling those bags and sharing with the class 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 14, 2011 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      They keep asking me when they get to show me what they brought! They are very excited! We use this in place of show and tell in our part time preschool. It still allows a little bit of the show and tell approach to sharing and bringing things from home but lets us combine the math skills too!

  2. D'Lynn Smith September 14, 2011 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    I love this! I do a smiliar activity with our letter of the week, but I love the idea of adding the mathmetical component too. I’m going to have to figure out how to add this to our routine. Thanks!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      It gives us a chance to focus on so many math skills and the children love to share things they brought from home!

  3. TheBargainBabe September 14, 2011 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Very cute, I love that it gets families involved in their child’s education!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 14, 2011 at 8:33 pm - Reply

      That is part of the fun for sure. I also like hearing stories the children tell about home as well when they share their collections!

  4. Sally Sims September 14, 2011 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    Great parent involvment idea.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 14, 2011 at 9:10 pm - Reply

      Yes- a simple way to get parents involved in our learning:)

  5. Carla September 14, 2011 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    How fun! I really love the show and tell aspect–kids just love to be the teacher!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 14, 2011 at 9:30 pm - Reply

      Yes they do:)

  6. Amanda September 15, 2011 at 12:57 am - Reply

    I really like this idea! A school that I am involved with now for an internship does not permit “share days” because of items being lost, broken, etc. so this could be a way to still have a bit of it! Thanks for the ideas!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 15, 2011 at 2:34 pm - Reply

      Thus may work as a fun alternative for you.

  7. shar September 15, 2011 at 8:10 am - Reply

    Fantastic! I can think of all sorts of ways that this idea could be used. Such a fun activity that the children will remember for ev’a!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 15, 2011 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      I look forward to seeing what else we can do with our collections!

  8. Heather September 15, 2011 at 8:39 am - Reply

    I know you said you would share more as you go along. But would you share a picture of your graph?! I would love to see how you are doing that.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm - Reply


  9. Jen Dermody September 15, 2011 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    I really love the parent involvement piece! I’ve done similar things with sending home fine motor tasks for home. Kids LOVE taking home special bags like this and tend to be more excited about their “homework”. Thanks for sharing!


    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 15, 2011 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      You are welcome Jen:) Send home fine motor activities are an excellent idea!

  10. […] Our Take Home Math Bags in Preschool […]

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  12. Natasha Thompson March 30, 2017 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    Do you have a sample of the directions you send home with your parents?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 30, 2017 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      The only samples I have available are located in my Loose Parts Math workshop handouts Natasha. I’m so sorry about that but a simple parent note describing the kinds of things they can help their child collect and how often to bring them in for math will do the trick.

      • Natasha Thompson March 31, 2017 at 10:05 am

        Deborah, will you be bundling this loose parts math workshop as you did with the others into a foundation?

      • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 31, 2017 at 3:22 pm

        I haven’t plan to Natasha! I have made Loose Parts math available by itself at this time.

  13. mitali Srivastava April 2, 2017 at 8:26 am - Reply

    I am sure that children will love these ideas and they will be more excite d to bring things from home. Their involvement will be natural .Thanks for sharing such fun activities.

  14. Nancy F April 2, 2017 at 10:16 am - Reply

    I have 18 Three/Four yr olds in each of our WeeThree classes with various levels of math skills. Since it is Spring, I have a bag filled with various size rubber ducks. I have the children sit in a circle and the first 9 children will take a turn putting the ducks in a row….I have a large one so I start with Daddy Duck…then Mamma Duck and the baby ducks …the 8th Duck has bunny ears and the children pay close attention because that one is different…then finally the last Duck is what I call the Lucky Duck…it’s the smallest and has Shamrocks all over it ( perfect because we just got done celebrating St Patrick’s day and most did not know what a shamrock or clover was)

  15. Nancy F April 2, 2017 at 10:18 am - Reply

    Counting ducks cont. When the children line up the ducks I ask them to put the Duck “behind” the last Duck and then he or she will count the ducks…I start by saying if we have one Daddy Duck and we “add” one Duck how many ducks will we have?…then the child will place the Duck “behind” the Daddy Duck and then count by “touching” each Duck with their finger.

  16. Nancy F April 2, 2017 at 10:21 am - Reply

    Counting ducks cont. This also teaches the children what “behind”means and in “front”.) The child sits back in the circle and then I say ” one plus one is two”… and show the number 1 using a flash card …and tell them that they just did “math” and that’s called “addition”! Once all the ducks are in a row then I have the remaining children one by one “take a Duck away starting with the Daddy Duck in “front” …we sing “9 Little ducks went out to play over the hills and far away…mother called Quack Quack Quack Quack but only 8 little ducks came back”..

  17. Nancy F April 2, 2017 at 10:22 am - Reply

    the child will take one Duck away and place back in my bag and then count using their finger to touch each Duck how many we have left..I will say i” if we have 9 ducks and take one away how many will we have left?” I will show the number 8 and they’ll them they just did “subtraction ” and praise them because they just did math like the big kids in school!…we continue singing the song until all the ducks are gone…the children pay close attention because everyone wants to be the person who gets to put away the “lucky duck” ( which is usually the line leader for the day)…I’ve done this for at least 5 years and it’s been a hit each year..the key is to find ducks that are a little different in size and what they wear

  18. Lucy W. April 16, 2017 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    I am going to get my math bags soon. A few questions about storage…1) Do you let the children bring their bags before the next Thursday? 2) If so, where do you store the bags until Thursday? 3) After you have finished with that weeks math tokens, do you just jumble them all into a big storage container until you use it for your big sorting project? Thanks! I just want to hear your ideas to make it run a little smoother in my classroom!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 17, 2017 at 9:06 pm - Reply

      Hi Lucy,
      1. The children bring their math bags in on Tuesdays and take them home after we use them on Thursdays.
      2. The children have a math bag hook on their cubby to keep their bags until math bag day.
      3. We keep all the math materials in our math box or math sorting trays.

      You can learn all about our math bag process by signing up for my Loose Parts Math workshop if you think that would be helpful to you.

  19. […] more information about using math bags in your classroom, visit TeachPreschool.  They’ve got some awesome […]

  20. Lara April 3, 2018 at 9:27 am - Reply

    Wow! This is a fantastic idea. I am planning do this with my pupils.
    Thanks Deborah!

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