There has been quite a lot of excitement around our house lately! In case you didn’t see it on Instagram, we are planning a trip to Florida next month to take the kids to Disney World. To say they’re excited is a bit of an understatement, which can sometimes make concentrating on school work difficult. To help with that (and also get some great math practice and conversations in at the same time!), we created a “Countdown to Disney!”
*Please Note: This post contains affiliate links which help support the work of this site. Read our full disclosure policy here.*
The concept of this paper chain link countdown is not new or unique to us, but the kids had SO much fun putting it together, and we were able to discuss and explore a considerable amount of math in the process!
You could probably put a paper chain together no problem, but in case you’re wondering how I did it, here are some specifics. First, I cut black construction paper into strips about 1 1/4 inch thick. I stapled two strips together to make Mickey’s head, and then used two smaller strips for his ears and stapled them to the head.
Then I cut red and yellow paper into strips to use as the rest of the paper chain. We made our chain 30 links long, so I had about 16 or 17 of each color (in case of errors).
By the time we made our paper chain, we were a little closer to leaving than 30 days. I knew it would be fun to let them all take turns tearing the links off though, so I left it a little longer than necessary.
One of the things I wanted my kids to work on while making this was writing their numbers. Please understand, though, that this is not “math,” but “handwriting.” Still an important and necessary skill!
So in addition to writing out their numbers, we were able to work on counting, recognizing numbers, skip counting, recognizing the difference between even and odd numbers, and counting backwards.
To help work on these skills, I used two different color links, red and yellow. I worked first with my daughter (first grade) and let her write the numbers on the red strips. Because the links would alternate, she had to write only ODD numbers on her strips. (Need more fun practice sorting even and odd numbers? Try this bean bag toss game, or subscribe to our email newsletter to get an exclusive even and odd number sort freebie!)
This was great practice for her, as she is used to skip counting by 2’s, but doesn’t usually count by 2’s starting at one.
Then I let my son write the numbers on the yellow strips. Again, it was great handwriting practice for him, as well as a chance to introduce skip counting! He caught on really quickly and enjoyed figuring out what the next number should be.
When he finished, he helped me get the strips in order so I could staple them to make the paper chain. This was also great practice, as he is still working on recognizing his numbers, and understanding their order.
Once the entire chain was put together, we had fun looking at the calendar and counting the days until we leave. We then also used our chain to practice counting backwards, and naming certain numbers. For example, I would point to one of the links and ask, “What number is this? Can you name a number that is smaller? Larger?”
As fun as this was, I will admit it ended up being much more time consuming than I originally envisioned. So if you would like to create a countdown with your kids to a special day or event and are pressed for time, I would suggest writing the numbers out yourself (this was what took the most time, but was necessary practice for my kids). Then, just let your kids look for patterns, put the numbers in order, practice counting, etc.
Overall, this was a great math review and a really fun way to incorporate their “Disney World excitement” into our school lessons!
Let the countdown begin!!
Do you have any fun family plans coming up that you could use to explore math with your kids?
~Math Geek Mama
Want another fun way to help your kids practice math facts and get them up and moving? Try Math Twister!
Never Run Out of Fun Math Ideas
If you enjoyed this post, you will love being a part of the Math Geek Mama community! Each week I send an email with fun and engaging math ideas, free resources and special offers. Join 163,000+ readers as we help every child succeed and thrive in math! PLUS, receive my FREE ebook, 5 Math Games You Can Play TODAY, as my gift to you!