5 Ways to Play & Learn with Bear Counters

5 Ways to Play & Learn with Bear Counters

Using bear counters and other manipulatives is one of the best ways to teach a variety of math concepts to preschoolers and elementary-aged kids in a hands-on way. Counters are great because you can use them in and out of the classroom for summer learning. Here are 5 ways to play and learn with bear counters.

Addition and Subtraction

Have students use the bear counters to count out each number to be added, and then combine the amounts. They can use different-colored bear counters to represent the different numbers. Students could also use different-sized bears for the different amounts. Bears can also be used to practice the concept of subtraction in a similar manner. Students can do the problems on paper first and then use the bears to check their arithmetic.

Weights and Measures

Students can practice measuring weight with the bear counters and a balance scale. Two small bears equal the weight of one medium bear, and one small and one medium bear equal the weight of one big bear. Three small bears also equal the weight of one big bear.

Place Value

Pass out small bear counters  and have students group them into piles of ten. Tell them that 10 small bears is equal to one medium bear. Ten medium bears is equal to one medium bear. Ten medium bears is equal to one large bear. Have them practice trading up with you. Then they can practice making numbers using the different-sized bears. For example, have students use the bears to create the number 128. They should show you one large bear, two medium bears, and eight small bears.

Multiplication and Division

If multiplying, students should pre-group their bears. For example, if they are working on multiplying by 3, have each student organize their bear counters  into several groups of 3. If dividing, they should separate the number into groups the size of the number being divided. For example, if dividing 12 by 4, they should separate the 12 bears into groups of four.


Put some bear counters of different colors in a group. Have students record how many bears are used in total and how many are of each color. Explain that the total number of bears represents the denominator while the bears of one color represent the numerator. Have the students practice writing the numbers in fraction form.

You can use all different types of counters. For more fun math learning activities, see math manipulative games.


6 Summer Learning Activities to Do With Kids

6 Summertime Learning Activities to Do With StudentsHere are some fun, low-cost, summer learning activities that you can do with your students and kids. These summer learning activities are stimulating and educational for kids of all ages.

Brain Teasers

Brain Teasers and puzzles are an awesome way to challenge the brain. These educational opportunities are so fun, kids won’t feel like their doing work at all. Summertime Learning Books has a bunch of  amazing math brain teasers and activities for kids.

Project Pantry

Find a spot in your classroom or house where you can store supplies. This might be a closet or a bin that stays in one spot. Get some clean paint cans or buckets. Fill them with all types of craft and art supplies. Besides the typical paints, markers, paper, scissors, and glue, include some more unusual things, such as tiles, artificial flowers, and wrapping paper. This way, you want to do a summer craft project, you have everything you need at that moment.

Collect Something

Let students choose something to collect that is free or inexpensive, such as paper clips or buttons. If the child wants to collect something that might be impractical, like horses, find pictures in magazines or catalogs, and have the students cut them out and start a picture collection.

Flash Cards

Use flashcards to learn new vocabulary words or create your own flashcards using index cards. Depending on the child’s interests and grade level, these cards might feature sight words, math problems, or states and capitals. You can create them yourself with markers or on a computer.  Let the kids help cut pictures out of magazines and glue them on the index cards. Then, find a spot outdoors, and go through the flash cards with your child.

Grocery Store Trip

Take a fun learning trip to the grocery store. Even with non-readers, you can have them help you find items on the shelf. Start by giving each child a list of his or her own. Review the list before you go. For non-readers, you might want to cut pictures from ads. Once you get to an aisle where you know there is something on your child’s list, prompt him or her to find the item. You may have to help your child get something down from a shelf.

Eating the Alphabet

Wouldn’t it be fun to eat the alphabet? During the course of the summer, see how many fresh fruits and vegetables you can eat from A to Z. You and your child can use a blank chart  or poster and write the letters A-Z on it. Once you have the chart, each time your child eats a fruit or vegetable, write it next to the matching letter of the alphabet. You can also do a smaller version of the chart by using summer themed computer paper and You can also let your child draw a picture of what he or she has eaten.

Find more summer learning activities and lessons here.


30 Amazing End of the Year Award Ideas

End of the Year Award Ideas

You’re in the home stretch and there’s a lot to do in the classroom to wrap up the end of another amazing school year. Don’t forget to celebrate all the achievements your students have made throughout the year. Present each student with a Certificate of Achievement Award during a classroom award ceremony. To make your students feel extra special, you could present each student with an individualized award that celebrates their best character trait, or best skill. Here are 30 award ideas for a memorable end of the school year award ceremony.

Math Award Super Student

Most Spirited Award
Peacemaker Award
Super Speller Award
Technology Whiz Award
Super Scientist Award
Good Reader Award
Aspiring Author Award
Perfect Penmanship Award
Amazing Artist Award
Master of Math Award
Queen/King of Crafts Award
Music Master Award
Good Leader Award
Classroom Comedian Award
Fashionista Award
Big Helper Award
Good Friend Award
Sunshine Award
Helping Hand Award
Best Manners Awards
Sportsmanship Award
Mother Earth Award
Problem-Solver Award
Most Creative Award
Good Friend Award
Organization King/Queen Award
Clean Up King/Queen Award
Perfect Attendance Award
Humanitarian Award Award

See more awards and incentives here.

We Were Born to Sparkle Bulletin Board

Student Work Display Bulletin Board

This We Were Born to Sparkle Bulletin Board is the perfect way to display student work, especially as we gear towards the end of the school year.  Your students work hard on lessons and projects every day. They will truly love seeing their hard work displayed on the classroom sparkle board.  This bulletin board displays how students are expressing themselves and is a central spot for student to feel encouraged and motivated by their own work.

To recreate this bulletin board you will need various classroom decorations:

Smart Start 1-2 Story Paper
Glitter Clothespins
Chevron Name Tags/Labels – Multi-Pack
5″ Bling Letters with Jewels
Multi Bright Stitch 4″ Fun Font Letters
Big Bold Black & White Create & Decorate
Black & White Chevrons and Dots Straight Border Trim