Math Treasure Hunt

With child number three, it is rare that I do what’s called ‘sit on the floor and play with him.’  Now that Raynes is in Kindergarten, I’m forced to up the ante and spend more one on one time with him – reading, math facts, coloring, or ‘homework.’  Now that doesn’t mean I’m going to gather school supplies to do this– let’s not go crazy. But… there is always Pirate Booty in our pantry, as it is one of the four foods Raynes will actually eat (hence the size 3T shorts he is still wearing)… and that? That is something I can work with.

*Guest Contributor Natalie Thrash has offered the below math game to serve a duel purpose in our family: counting and calories. I’d call that a win win!    

Math Treasure Hunt via grateful simplicity


 Math Treasure Hunt

There’s nothing like a treasure hunt to get kids excited. The good news is that all that pirate booty can be used to boost their math skills. Here’s how to work the numbers as they sort their loot.

What You Need:

  • A fittingly treasure-esque box or jar for your pirate to place his bounty.
  • A collection of small items like colored gems, strings of beads, and “coins” (can be found at craft stores) or household treasures like buttons, bottle caps, screws, old keys, or anything else that can be counted and sorted.

What You Do:

  • Hide it. Spread the loot around your house or in the backyard. Once your pirates have located their booty, the math begins!
  • Estimate. Put all the treasure in a clear container. Ask your kids to guess how many items are in the jar. Challenge them to empty out the portion they think is half, or to take out a quarter of the amount. Then empty the entire contents and check the accuracy of thier estimations.
  • Sort and classify. Ask your kids to sift through their treasures and match like items. Then throw them a few questions. For example, are the buttons all the same size? Do the keys look alike? Are some of the gems square and others round? Not only does this activity teach children to group items into sets, but it teaches them to observe carefully. Ask them how the things in each set are alike and how they are different.
  • Tell a story. Use their treasures to tell addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division stories. For example, if we share 17 buttons among 3 friends, how many will we each get? Will there be some left over? Or if we have 3 shirts that need 5 buttons each, do we have enough buttons? Ask your kids to act out the problem, by dividing the buttons between the “3 friends” or the “3 shirts”. They can use stuffed animals if they’d like, or just their imaginations.


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