Egg cartons are such an inexpensive and overlooked teaching tool. There is so much you can do with them. We have this amazing place in the Phoenix area called Treasures 4 Teachers. They are an organization founded to help teachers get supplies they need at little cost. They have a huge warehouse chock-full of teaching materials, office supplies, classroom furniture, and a healthy dose of items that can be recycled or repurposed. On a recent visit, I found these in the “FREE” section. Total jackpot! Egg cartons are great tools for teaching math. Here are some fun, free, and easy ways to turn these recycled treasures into awesome teaching tools.
Use the egg carton to help students identify numbers and practice counting. You can have them put actual objects in the egg cups counting one-on-one correspondence. You can use uniform objects like counters or beans. I used buttons this time.
Our first module in math explores number combinations to ten. Egg cartons make awesome ten frames! Simply cut off the last row so that there are only ten cups. Use beads, pom poms, cotton balls, pennies or any other counter you have on hand and instruct the students create number combinations to ten. This is wonderful hands-on practice for part-part-whole relationships. Once they have composed the numbers visually, have them record them numerically using a chart like this or in a number bond.
You can make egg cartons into super fun addition and subtraction games to practice fact fluency. Simply number the carton cups from 1-12 (or larger numbers if you like) using a marker. Put two pom poms, pennies, or counters in the carton and close the lid. Scramble them UP! When you open the lid, add or subtract the digits that have the markers. Put three poms in and use it for adding three digits. (1.OA.A.2) I have students record their work on a white board.
Scrambled Eggs – Variation:
Have the students use the digits to create a word problem. Have another “farmer” solve it. Again, white boards would work great for this!
Working in partners, students can practice making patterns. Partner A can say a pattern like “A-A-B-A-B.” Partner B makes the pattern in their carton. Partner A checks, then the roles switch. Use pattern blocks to double the fun and practice shape names, or have students try it “Battleship” style.
What other ways have you used egg cartons to teach math? Please leave a comment and share!