Marble Math


Math has been a big deal around here lately, mostly because my son is excited about his brand-new Khan Academy account. We are starting at the beginning with 1-digit addition and 1-digit subtraction, but Tenzin was excited about pushing himself and trying some DIVISION. He watched the video that accompanies the basic division section, and then I set him up with some manipulatives. I dub it Marble Math! Here’s the process.

For this math activity, you will need:

  • tons of marbles of uniform(ish) size
  • a small bowl
  • handful of medium-sized rubber bands
  • hundreds chart (if your kiddo still gets lost in counting, like my little guy)

 The first problem given was 40 / 8 = ?

1. His first task was to count out 40 marbles into the bowl. 

ImageAs you can see, he got stumped along the way a few times. But, did I give him the answer? Of course not! I referred him to his hundreds chart. (I’m hoping this will help him memorize the order and pattern of it all. Also, he often mixes the order up, i.e. 31 instead of 13.)


2. Task number two was to count out 8 rubber bands and lay them flat on the table. The rubber bands acted as marble corrals.

3. Next, Tenzin distributed the marbles among the rubber bands. First, every rubber band received 1 marble. Then, another round of marbles was distributed for a total of 2 marbles per rubber band. This continued until all the marbles were distributed.

4. Finally, Tenzin counted out how many marbles were in one rubber band. Each rubber band corralled 5 marbles. He entered his solution into the answer box on Khan Academy, and it was correct! Rejoicing, then on to the next problem: 90 / 9 = ?.


Pleased with his success, but out of focus, Tenzin went on to examine the marbles, hit them together and roll them around the room. So neither the rubber bands nor the cat felt left out of his activities, my precious son combined the two:


Our heroic Masquerade deserves some extra pets and snuggles from Mamma, dontcha think?

What fun math activities do your littles get down with?

Have you merged modern tech/online learning with manipulatives?

What approaches to learning math have you found most effective?


Author: kelsyd

Perhaps, if I unleash my opinionated, passionate perspectives of a world in chaos, I will find a balance. Sustainability and parenting are my two greatest passions and struggles. I hope to communicate with other parents/humans who are striving for enough.

3 thoughts on “Marble Math

  1. How wonderful. We invested in the Speilgaben set (got it just yesterday) and they have pieces that would allow us to do that (replacing the marbles and elastic bands with the wooden shapes they provide). How old is your son?

  2. The Spielgaben sets look beautiful! (Had to look them up.) Manipulative sets like that remind me of Montessori-style learning, which I love. I hope your son loves playing with it! My guy is almost 5. Yikes! (I should have put a brick on his head so he’d stay little, no?) Just kidding, of course. 😉 Are your little interested in counting and math? It has taken a while for Tenzin to decide to get going, and I haven’t pushed it. Just exposed him and let him decide, for the most part.

    • For now, my daughter loves counting, but she does it more as “singing” than math… you know? She loves the fact she can count to 20 in french and 10 in 3 other languages (we are exposed to many), but she actually starts counting stuff, she’ll count the same ting over and over again until she gets to 20 or 10. LOL! But she’s only 3 1/2. She’s really good at spatial stuff though, like she know that she can make a square with 2 triangles kinda thing.

      I had to check out the Khan academy. Created an account for myself to see how rusty I was… wow! I need a refresher! 🙂

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