My daughter loves to build and create. Give her a few random household supplies, and she’ll make a fort fully equipped with a moat, drawbridge, and fire breathing dragon! Knowing that engineering sparks her interest, I wanted to create an activity for her that would do just that and integrate some number sense practice at the same time. Cue a whole lot of Solo cups and a ball! This build and break math activity is an excellent boredom buster that promotes number recognition, counting, one-to-one correspondence, and even a little bit of science.
Materials for STEM Build and Break Math Game
- Solo cups or mouth rinse cups
- Random number generator
- Melissa & Doug Pull-Back Vehicle Set (optional)
I found a number generator online at primarygamesarena.com. This handy tool allows you to input a range of numbers to be randomly generated. My little one is beginning to work on reading and understanding larger numbers, therefore I decided to focus on numbers up to forty. You may choose any range of numbers from 1-99. Each time you press “GO,” a new number will display on the screen. Anticipating the next number that popped up was definitely a favorite part of the activity. We happened to have a neighbor friend over to join in on the fun, so I demonstrated the process of counting and building and they were excited to begin!
As soon as the number was correctly identified, I instructed them to carefully count out that same amount of cups.
Building and Breaking
Now the building can begin! Taking turns, each child carefully stacked the cups in a pyramid, counting them again as they went along. I loved how this activity allowed for double the rote counting experience.
Once the tower of cups was completed, the “breaking” could begin. Using a foam soccer ball we had on hand, she stepped back and released it to break the tower! They absolutely loved watching them all fall down. The sound of the cups crashing made them want to rush back to get a new number so they could do it all again!
As our activity continued, we tried a couple of different balls that were different in mass. The physical impact each ball created was quickly recognized. For example, when we used a tennis ball, it was not as easy to knock over the entire pyramid of cups. Standing closer to the tower helped, but the ball was far more narrow in comparison to the soccer ball and did not make as big of an impact. This was a fun and hands-on way to introduce mass and velocity in a simple way.
The excitement and energy from this activity sparked even more ideas for breaking down the tower. My little engineer ran and grabbed her retractable Melissa & Doug vehicles and decided that it would be fun to see them crash into the pyramid of cups. After winding the wheels back and releasing, she squealed in delight as it pummeled right through the cups!
This build and break math activity literally is a boredom buster and could be just what you’re looking for to have some indoor fun on a rainy day! We hope you have as much fun as we did building and breaking!
If your child loves this, then or wrecking ball block play will also be a favorite.