Use pencils as a math manipulative! Great back to school math activity to learn tally marks.

We are officially stocked up on back to school supplies- new glue sticks, full boxes of crayons, and beautifully perfect #2 pencils (nothing screams back to school more than #2 pencils)! Each of those school supplies are going to be used for loads of fun home preschool activities (see: Glue Bin, Melted Crayon Art, and Pencil Eraser Name Recognition), but I wanted to challenge myself to use our supplies IN (not just for) creative learning activities as well. Here’s my first attempt at using our supplies creatively:

Pencil Tally Marks

Tally marks are a great way to visually represent numbers for quick identification. Preschoolers can use tally marks to practice counting and building numeracy skills (think literacy but for numbers). Older kids can build on this activity by practicing skip counting by fives and tens. Using a common school supply (pencils) makes this a great lesson to put together at the beginning of the school year!

Use pencils as a math manipulative! Great back to school math activity to learn tally marks.

With my preschooler, we laid out all the pencils and started to count them (caught him right in the middle of saying “four” here)

Use pencils as a math manipulative! Great back to school math activity to learn tally marks.

At five we stopped and I explained that we can show five by by crossing the fifth pencil over the other four pencils.

Use pencils as a math manipulative! Great back to school math activity to learn tally marks.

I didn’t go into a long lesson on tally marks or make him start skip counting (definitely not ready for that!), I simply showed my son that this is one way people show the number five (“we call the lines ‘tally marks’ and they can help people count faster”).

Preschoolers don’t need to go into any more depth than that. They can continue practicing making groups of five and learning to identify five tally marks. That concluded our simple (and quick!) preschool math lesson on tally marks. I plan on revisiting this concept a few more times this school year in other “mini-lessons” ┬álike this one.

Here’s some more lessons on Tally marks we may use in the future:

Tally Marks Math Tray

Tally Marks on the Light Table

Tally Marks in Nature

Use pencils as a math manipulative! Great back to school math activity to learn tally marks.

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