Candy Cane Math Activities

You may be thinking what happened to the “learning” in Fantastic Fun and Learning. We’ve been having a lot of fun with Christmas crafts and holiday activities this month. While there is a lot of learning to done in all of those activities, I haven’t shared anything about specific learning goals we’ve been working on. That doesn’t mean we haven’t been doing them though. We’ve been learning with all sorts of holiday materials: bows, ribbons, presents, and candy canes to name a few.

Candy Cane Math Activities for Kids

Today I thought I’d share some the math activities we’ve been doing with candy canes. These activities can be done as part of circle time, guided math, or even as busy bag activities once they’ve been introduced.

Candy Cane Math for Kids...five fun hands-on math activities using candy canes

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Candy Cane Symmetry

When first introducing the candy canes, I would give kids a little time to explore on their own. See what they naturally want to do with them and go from there. Lovey immediately started making designs, so once she was done I set up a simple symmetry activity for us to do together.


Candy Cane Symmetry Materials

I placed a long piece of ribbon down the center of our work space with the basket of candy canes to the side. Amazon does have the candy canes we used, but I would recommend finding them at the Dollar Tree or somewhere else locally for a much better price if you can. You can also use real candy canes if you’d like.

If this is your child’s first time exploring symmetry, you might take a moment to talk about what symmetry is and identify some examples of symmetry in your home or classroom.

We started this activity by taking turns placing the candy canes. The first round Lovey placed a candy cane on her side of the “game board”, and I placed a matching candy cane on my side. As we moved forward in the game, Lovey began to see how we were creating a symmetrical design (and she noticed when I intentionally placed my candy cane in the wrong spot!).

The second time we played I went first and she mirrored my choices.

Candy Cane Math for Kids...five fun hands-on math activities using candy canes

It was a little challenging to decide which way to place the candy canes to make the design symmetrical, but with practice she was able to do so.

Candy Cane Math for Kids...five fun hands-on math activities using candy canes

We made a lot of designs that first day, and the materials have been out for her to create her own designs since then.

Candy Cane Math for Kids...five fun hands-on math activities using candy canes

And you know me! If we have materials out, I like to use them in as many ways as possible. It saves preparation and planning time for me, and the kids to explore and use the materials in a variety of ways.

One-to-One Correspondence

one-to-one correspondence with candy canes

To practice matching sets one to one, Lovey placed on candy cane above the ribbon and one candy cane below the ribbon to match. For this activity we used the same amount of candy canes on the bottom and the top.


Counting and number recognition with candy canes

We also used our candy canes to practice counting and number recognition. We used a set of gingerbread man cutouts labeled with numbers. You could use any number cards or even a number cube. And for kids who aren’t yet able to recognize numbers, you can orally tell them a number of candy canes to show on the board.



Comparing numbers with candy canes

As children are able to count, we can begin comparing amounts. Here we combined the one-to-one correspondence and counting activities to visually help kids compare two numbers.

First Lovey picked one number card and showed that many candy canes above the ribbon. Then she chose another number card and showed that many candy canes below the ribbon. As she placed the bottom candy canes I encouraged her to line them up with the ones on the top.

By lining up the two sets she could easily see which set had more. During this activity we discussed math vocabulary like more, less, greater, and fewer.

Candy Cane Patterns

What other math activities would your kids like doing with candy canes?

Less stress, more connecting this holiday season? Yes, PLEASE!

From the arrival of fall to Halloween to Thanksgiving and Christmas, the last four months of the year can be a wonderful opportunity for making family memories and spending time together, but they can also be stressful as we try to collect ideas, recipes, and activities to try together.

Stephanie Morgan, founder of Modern Parents Messy Kids, a site that’s been voted Best Craft Blog in Parents Magazine and one of’s Top 50 Craft Mom Blogs, recently released a new eBook to help us have a little less stress and more time to connect with family this year, and I’m so glad to be an affiliate for such a great resource.

Stephanie’s goal is to make it easier on all of us to enjoy the holidays with our kids. Hands-On Holidays is 100 pages full of her family’s very favorite ways to connect as a family over the holiday season. I love the convenience of having so many ideas in one place, and most of them are simple enough for even my toddler to participate in.

The book includes picture book suggestions, DIY decor, activities, and treats. Bonus sections also offer even more ideas to enjoy. Click here to view more details.


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  1. What wonderful activities! I have pinned this post.

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