One of my favorite math resources are the ones found while walking (think: sticks, pinecones, rocks) or while staring into the kitchen pantry (think: macaroni, beans, straws). Shells are the most fun for me to collect. I love to scour the coastline for sea treasures when we visit the Oregon Coast. I have collected quite a few over the course of the years and I love to bring them out during math practice.
I like to call one of the fun games we play, "Shell Lotto".
I write various numbers and mathematical operations signs ( _ , +. X, = etc.) on a bunch of the shells. I scoop out a handful of the labeled shells and my kids try to see how many different math problems they can form from the pile I give them.
Out of the pile I gave my daughter, she was able to use all but the number 2 in this round.
Here she was able to use all but the numbers 1 and 9.
Here she used all of the shells except the 5 and the + sign.
What makes this game particularly fun, is that the + signs can be doubled as multiplication signs when tilted just so. Equal signs can be doubled as 11. Minus signs can be doubled as the number 1. So you see, lots of different options to show lots of different math problems!
For more DIY budget math manipulatives, click here.
And if you love Shell Lotto, you will also love Number Lotto!