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Macaroni Math

Help toddlers with math and understanding the concepts More, Less, Same, Equal and One More using Macaroni Math.


Uncooked elbow or other macaroni and 3 small bowls

Try It Out:

  1. Place 2 empty bowls and the uncooked macaroni in front of your child. Tell her that you are going to have some fun with macaroni.
  2. Put 1 macaroni piece in 1 bowl and 3 macaroni pieces in the other bowl. Ask your child to point to the bowl that has fewer macaroni pieces.
    • If she points to the correct bowl, say, “That’s right! This bowl has fewer.”
    • If she points to the wrong bowl, point to the correct bowl and say, “Good try! But this bowl has fewer.”
    • Next ask her to point to the bowl that has more macaroni pieces.
  3. Ask your child to add “1 more” to 1 of the bowls. Now ask her again to find the bowl that has fewer macaroni pieces, and the 1 that has more.
  4. Put out 2 bowls with 1 piece of macaroni in each and a third bowl with 2 pieces of macaroni.
    • Ask your child to find the 2 bowls that are the same. If she does, say, “That’s right. These 2 bowls are the same. These are equal.”
    • If she points to the wrong bowls, point out the correct bowls and say, “Oops! These 2 bowls are the same.”

Making the Most of This Activity:

  1. Try the activity using different objects, such as snacks or food items at mealtime or clothing items during dressing. See if your child can make 2 containers have the same number of objects.


Did your child understand concepts such as more and fewer? If not, focus on just 1 at a time or try again later.


American Institute for Research

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