Magic Number – A Subitising Game

Magic Number - A subitising game for young children

Magic Number - A subitising game for young children

I have been practising subitising and subitising and MORE subitsing with the five year olds in our classroom.  There are lots of fun ways to learn this skill! Learning to subitise is a super important foundation maths skill for young children, they can never get enough of it.

You can find more subitising games here >>> Learning About Numbers – Subitising and Number Recognition

Here is a simple game that we’ve been playing. You might like to try it out with the four and five year olds in your life.

Magic Number

Number of players: 1 (a whole class can play this at the same time)

You will need:

  • 1 six sided die
  • 1 whiteboard (or piece of paper)
  • 1 whiteboard marker (or pencil)
  • 1 dice mat*

*the dice mat is just for making the sound of 24 children rolling dice a little quieter!!

How to play:

  • Think of a ‘magic number’ from 1 – 6.
  • Roll the dice onto your dice mat and into your bear cave. A what now? A bear cave means slightly cupping your hand on the desk as a little gutter to stop the dice from rolling off the table. It helps prevent over eager dice rollers!!
  • Look at the number on the dice and say it to yourself, eg. if you roll a 6, say “six!”
  • If the number you’ve rolled is your magic number, draw a tally mark on your whiteboard.
  • Keep playing and adding tally marks to your board every time you roll your magic number.
  • See how many magic numbers you can roll!

Adults might not think that this simple game is much fun but kids who are just learning about number get super excited when they see their magic number appear!

Here are some other subitising activities that I use in the classroom:

Fun Water Play Ideas for Kids

Water Play Ideas for Kids

11 Fun Water Play Ideas for Kids

Parenting fact #237: Kids love water play.

It’s SO easy to do and SO much fun. My kids spent an hour jumping up and down in a paddling pool yesterday. You know what I did? Sat with my butt on a garden chair and my feet in the water and relaxed. And got drenched! Well, I couldn’t really leave them alone in the pool now, could I? I HAD to sit there. Such a hard life.

Water play is definitely my go-to play activity, especially in the warmer months. We do indoor water play too though. Here are some of our favourite ways to play with water.

The Car Wash

Water Play Ideas for Kids

Set up a couple of buckets and some dish soap, chuck in a couple of rags and line up the bikes and cars for a wash. Easy peasy.

Mud Play

Water Play Ideas for Kids

This is not for the faint hearted. As you can see it gets rather messy. But it’s FUN!

Puddle Jumping

Water Play Ideas for Kids

A classic, this one never gets old. We had some fab storms over this steamy weekend that allowed for hot weather puddle jumping. Bliss! You could even try using sidewalk chalk in the puddles and see what happens. This pic is an oldie but a goodie – my fav puddle jumping pic ever :)

The Paddling Pool

Water Play Ideas for Kids

No brainer, right? Throw in some toys, see what floats and sinks ~ make a mini whirl pool ~ drop in some coloured ice cubes ~ just soak it up and have a splash.

Water Painting

Water Play Ideas for Kids

Grab any container, a bucket or empty ice cream tub, fill it with water, throw in a few paintbrushes of different shapes and sizes and away you go. Paint the walls, paint the pavers, paint the cubby house, paint the tree :)

The Water Table

Water Play Ideas for Kids

This one is an absolute favourite of mine because it keeps everything kind of contained. It’s perfect for days when I can’t quite cope with mud play or blowing up the paddling pool.

The Sprinkler

Water Play Ideas for Kids

There are so many awesome sprinklers you can get these days, like this wiggly caterpillar guy. Hilarious!

Bubble Play

Pebble and Rocky love to stand at the kitchen sink and play with bubbles left over after I’ve done the dishes (ok, maybe I make sure there’s a few extra there for them). My windows get thoroughly covered in bubbles but that’s probably the best clean they get all year, so who’s complaining?

The SUPER Sprinkler

Water Play Ideas for Kids

This is a crazy contraption I made last summer.

Coloured Ice Play

Water Play Ideas for Kids

A great one for indoors or even in the bath.

Bath Play

Water Play Ideas for Kids


I remember the early days with Rocky, during his first year, I often ran a bath twice a day for him, just to help keeps us both sane! Check out this snowy road bath play or this DIY bath paint. Some kids may not be so keen on bath time, we struggled with Pebble in the bath for years. Try out these ideas for kids who hate the bath.

Have you ever had a backyard mini car wash?

Pretend Play: Farm Play Dough

Pretend Play: Farm Play Dough {via Octavia and Vicky}

As you may have noticed I’ve been trying to find ways for Pebble (4 years, 9 months) and Rocky (20 months) to play together. This pretend play experience with farm play dough is perfect for both toddlers and preschoolers. They had a ball together! It’s so sweet seeing them play… mostly. Of course they are siblings and have their fair share of fights too.

This pretend play farm play dough so easy to set up. Just grab some farm toys, you’ve probably got some wooden or plastic toys at home, or they’re very cheap to buy. You may get lucky and find some second hand at your local op shop or online. Make up a batch of green play dough and set up an invitation to play. If your child needs extra help to get started with pretend play you can try role modelling by moving the animals around and making animal noises. They will soon join in the fun.

Looking for a fool proof play dough recipe? This no cook method is my favourite.

Pretend Play: Farm Play Dough {via Octavia and Vicky} Pretend Play: Farm Play Dough {via Octavia and Vicky} Pretend Play: Farm Play Dough {via Octavia and Vicky} Pretend Play: Farm Play Dough {via Octavia and Vicky}

Pebble and Rocky also enjoyed the process of making play dough together. Just a warning – it gets messy! Especially with toddlers. ESPECIALLY if one of those toddlers is Rocky!  Expect mess and let it happen. It’s not so hard to clean up afterwards and the experience of making the dough adds so much to the play. It’s also great for learning about measurement, procedure and concepts like hot/cold, wet/dry and empty/full.

Pretend Play: Farm Play Dough {via Octavia and Vicky}

Ideas for extending the play:

  • sing farm songs and nursery rhymes, like “Old MacDonald” and “This Little Piggy”. Nursery rhymes are SO important to children’s early literacy development and are often forgotten about these days. Plus kids love them!
  • read books about farms – some of our favourites are Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell, My Farm by Alison Lester, and A Year on Our Farm by Penny Matthews and Andrew McLean.
  • make your own animals from play dough.
  • print out and use these farm play dough mats which encourage early numeracy skills.
  • encourage children to pretend to be farm animals – say “can you be a…. pig/duck/horse/cow/etc”
  • draw or paint pictures of farm animals
  • visit a local farm and get hands on with the animals

More ideas for toddlers and preschoolers to enjoy together: 

Guess My Picture

Guess My Picture - A drawing and language game for preschoolers

Over the weekend my immediate family gathered to remember my brother, Ryan, who died this time last year. We released some balloons, drank a beer and remembered our happiest and fondest moments with him. We cried, laughed, hugged and cried again. Ryan’s three boys were there, along with their cousins, nine kids in all. Ryan’s ashes are in a beautiful garden with winding pathways, leafy gum trees, a big open lawn and a fountain. It’s just perfect for kids, they love it there. They’re all very young, and don’t really understand the finality of death.  It makes it very hard to stay sad for long when you’re surrounding by laughing, playing children. I hope that Ryan would have loved the way that we paid tribute to him.

After the memorial I went to my mum’s house along with some of the family. It’s such a strange thing, grief and loss. It’s so intense, emotions are so heightened. But the everyday, mundane moments continue. “Do you want a sandwich?”, “Mum, let’s play hide and seek”, “Tell me about your holiday”. It feels surreal to carry on with life, as normal, when someone so important is missing, forever. But you do. Carry on.

Kids are the BEST for distraction from grief, for me anyway. They just want to play. Pebble was tired and cranky that day, we’d let her stay up too late the night before, I guess we were too weighed down our own sadness to worry about bed time. I needed something to distract her, so I suggested we play this game. Her cousins and Uncle soon joined in too, then Nana too. I think I’ll always think of this game as “The Game I Played When I Didn’t Want To Think About My Dead Brother”, but that’s kinda wordy so I’ll call it, “Guess My Picture”.

Guess My Picture

For children age 3 and up.

Minimum 2 players.

You will need

  • paper
  • something to draw with – pens/pencils/crayons/markers

How to play

  • Player 1 draws a picture on the paper. The first person to guess the picture wins that round. Player 1 writes the initial of the winner next to their picture. This is good letter recognition and writing practice, but it’s not essential to the game, so skip that bit if you prefer.
  • Player 2 takes a turn to draw a picture while the other players guess what they’re drawing.
  • Continue on until everyone has had a turn, then start all over again.

It’s very simple, and very addictive. At one point we had three generations and eight people playing! We kept it very casual, with players coming in and out of the game and toddlers scribbling on the page alongside our game. Sometimes, when pictures were very tricky to guess, we asked for clues. I hope you enjoy this game too.

Guess My Picture - A drawing and language game for preschoolers Guess My Picture - A drawing and language game for preschoolers Guess My Picture - A drawing and language game for preschoolers Guess My Picture - A drawing and language game for preschoolers

How to you cope with grief and loss?

Hidden Towers – A Lego Game


I am absolutely soaking up these school holidays. I love my job very much but these long, lazy days with no where to rush to and no lunches to pack are just delicious. Today I even had an afternoon nap while Rocky slept and Pebble watched a movie. A nap!

This past week we’ve had some catch ups with friends, a mummy-daughter day while Rocky had a day with Grandma, we’ve played at the park and stayed in our PJs all day.

Now reality is starting to seep back in and I’m thinking about the classroom again and what I need to get ready for the new term. Term 3! Where has that time gone? This group of five year olds is coming along in leaps and bounds – that’s one of the awesome things about teaching this age group. They grow and learn right before your eyes!

Last term I taught the class a game using unifix cubes. It’s a very noisy game involving lots of talking! It’s lots of fun and with lots of learning too. I call it “Hidden Towers” and it’s all about spatial awareness, location, position and giving and following directions.

Today Pebble and I had a go at playing it using lego bricks (with a little bit of “help” from Rocky) and she had fun with it. I love that this game can be adapted to be easier or harder depending on the kids that are playing. More about that in a minute, for now this is how to play:

Hidden Towers – A Lego Game


Age: 4 – 6 (refer adaptations below for other age groups)

Players: 2

You will need:

Six lego bricks (or any coloured blocks that easily stack) per player, in exactly the same colours and sizes.
A barrier (eg. a large, hard cover picture book)

How to play:

Player 1 creates a tower or structure using the lego bricks without showing Player 2.
Keeping the tower hidden (we used a picture book as a barrier), Player 1 describes their tower to Player 2.
Player 2 follows the directions until the tower is complete.
Both players reveal their towers – are they the same? The should be! If not, try again.


  • For younger children use less blocks.
  • For older children use more blocks in a greater range of shapes and sizes.
  • To increase the difficulty set a time limit or a limited number of moves to achieve the matching tower (eg. six directions).

We played a simple version today, with just six blocks and a singular column tower. As Pebble gets used to the game we’ll introduce trickier structures and more bricks. And perhaps play at the table instead of on the floor, to avoid the toddler interference!

What games do your kids like to play with lego?