We had a ton of colorful corn kernels left over from a fine motor project my kids had done, and I was looking for an educational way to use them. Then I realized I could set up a corn kernel math activity to help my kids work on estimation, grouping by 5s and 10s, and counting.
Note: For more fall fun, see my Fall Activities for Kids page.
I set up the activity by placing different amounts of corn kernels into each of three sections of a tray. I made sure to have enough kernels so that my kids would not be able to easily count the number while they were still in the tray. I also added a post-it note to each section that asked “How many?”
Upon presenting the tray, the first task was for my kids to estimate the number of kernels in each section. As you can see in the picture below, QBoy wrote his estimates down on the post-it notes.
Then it was time to figure out how many corn kernels were actually in each tray. But I didn’t want my kids to just count them 1 by 1. That would have felt like an overwhelming task, especially if they made a mistake and had to start over.
Plus, we use a math curriculum in our homeschool that I absolutely love called Right Start math. Right Start discourages teaching counting in favor of teaching kids to see numbers in groups of 5s and 10s. So I asked QBoy to form groups of 5 with all of his corn kernels.
He then combined groups of 5 to form groups of 10.
Once he had made groups of 10, it was easy to determine how many kernels he had by counting the groups of 10 using skip counting (e.g., 10, 20, 30, 40).
Finally, he compared the actual number of corn kernels with his estimate, and we discussed whether this estimate was greater than or less than the actual number of kernels.
How else could you use corn kernels to help your kids learn math?
More corn resources
More corn posts from Gift of Curiosity:
- Books about corn
- Montessori activities to learn about the parts of corn
- How to make corn husk dolls
- Corn fine motor activities
- Sprouting Indian corn
- Indian corn popcorn in the microwave
- Simple corn crafts for kids