Who doesn’t enjoy a good snack to take on the road? Here’s a snack activity that fits well in the transportation unit, that not only fills rumbling bellies, but also reinforces math concepts!
First assemble your travel mix snack ingredients. There are so many ways to go with this! I usually look for a cereal, salty, sweet, and fruity combination, but this is certainly a flexible recipe! So I might go with chocolate Chex, pretzel goldfish, Craisins, and Reeses Pieces. Or maybe some Cheerios, pretzels, Teddy Grahams, almonds, and dry apricots. Or maybe I’d get rice Chex, pretzel sticks, raisins, marshmallows and peanut butter chips. You just have to tailor it based on what you have available, dietary considerations, and purpose. But the great thing is, since they’re making it themselves, you don’t have to worry too much about what everybody likes!
Gather your ingredients and a few bowls or baggies. Have the children create their own travel mix from the ingredients, leaving out anything they don’t like. But they don’t just dump in the ingredients willy-nilly. That’s where the math comes in!
You can go about this exercise in a variety of ways, depending upon your objectives and the ingredients you’re working with. You may want to focus on one number, like 12. Have your children count out 12 of each ingredient to add to their mix. This gives them plenty of meaningful, yet repetitious practice counting to 12, and gives you an opportunity to observe not just whether or not they can count to 12, but also whether they are rote counting (shoveling M&Ms in as they count out loud) or using 1-to-1 ratio (counting one M&M for each number).
You could assign measuring scoops to each ingredient and a number card to indicate how many scoops of each item goes into the mix. This provides for a great discussion of measurement and measurement tools, while also encouraging number recognition and 1-to-1 counting as well.
You could also turn it into a game for your older children. Using a deck of number cards, each child draws a card and decides which item to count into her mix. So if she draws a 7 she may choose to count in 7 pretzels. Play as many rounds as you like, until everyone has a chance to create a full travel mix. This method gives more practice for number recognition on a wider range, as well as 1-to-1 counting again, and a little greater than less than comparison. It also gives your child the opportunity to use some logic and planning as they consider which ingredients they want more or less of. Some children may even discover the principle of addition as they consider that 3 marshmallows followed by 9 marshmallows means they now have 12 marshmallows!
Tailor your method to the developmental level of the children you love and teach. Whichever way you go about it, building a travel mix is a tasty way to incorporate basic math concepts with real meaning.
Top photo by darko d.