Number Stones




‘I am intentional, I am calculating.

I acknowledge the drive to learn and support that drive.’


This is an activity designed to give your child ownership in designing their own learning materials and agency in the way they learn math. Children will create number stones from rocks collected from the natural environment to be used in a variety of math games.


Paint makers or sharpies

Bucket to gather stones

Optional: number flash cards 0-10 or cardstock to make some

Optional: personal dry erase board


Bring your child on a nature walk and invite them to collect stones. Flat stones work best and can often be found on the shores of rivers/lakes.

You will need at least 11 stones

With paint makers or sharpies guide your child to put dots on each stone that correspond with quantities 0-10 (leave one stone blank for zero). Depending on your children’s developmental level you can go as high as 20.

Use these stones to aid in math instruction.

Holistic Engagement

Use these as free play materials so your children have opportunities to explore numbers during self-directed play.

Pair these with numeral flashcards as invitation to invite your child to practice matching numbers with their quantities.

Put these on a tray or in a sensory table along with toys (i.e. animal figurines, toy cars, small Legos, ect.) as an invitation for your child to match toy quantities with the dots on each stone.

Play an exercise game in which your child picks a stone from the bucket randomly and then must do that many jumps, push-ups, jumping jacks, hand claps, ect.,

If you have children that are ready for addition you can write the following largely on a dry erase board: ______ + ______ = ______

              Invite your child put stones in blanks and write the answer using a dry erase marker

Invite your child to sort stones into categories: even/odd numbers, greater/less than 5

Questions to ask

Which stones are best to write on? Why?

Can you find exactly 11 flat stones?

Can you sort the stones into two categories: even numbers and odd numbers?

Mindfulness Prompts

Hold the rock into your hand, concentrating on the smoothness

Take ten deep breaths before we begin

Practice counting to 10 when you feel angry

Image by Scott Webb