Monster Math: Place Value Puppets

Hey, friends!  I know many of you have little people in your life who love learning and creating, just like my Little Crafter!  It’s so much fun for me to come up with hands-on ways to reinforce the skills he’s learning, which is why I was beyond excited when the folks at Elmer’s approached me about participating in the Elmer’s Early Learners Academy Pin it to Win it contest!

I’m one of fifteen bloggers who were selected to receive a kit of crafting supplies including the new Elmer’s Early Learners Glue Pen and Glue Stick, which are specially designed to meet the specific learning and developmental needs of younger children.  My job was to help Little Crafter create an educational craft with them…how fun is that?!  As I brainstormed all the possible kinds of things we could do, I came up with an idea that would help reinforce the things LC is learning in math without feeling like work at all!  Take a look:

Place Value Puppets

Right now, Little Crafter’s math group is learning place values.  Many of the worksheets he brings home show a written number and ask him to identify how many hundreds, tens, and ones it includes, or it shows pictures of block groupings and asks him to write the corresponding numeral.  He’s always been fascinated with numbers, so I thought we could come up with a fun, hands-on way to practice those place values…making monster puppets!

Here’s how we did it.  You need:
– popsicle sticks
– construction paper or cardstock
– pom-poms
– feathers
– googly eyes
– buttons {optional}
– Elmer’s Early Learners glue pen
– scissors
– crayons

For many of you crafty mamas, I bet these supplies are already living in your stash…we constantly have all of these things on hand, because you never know when you might need them!

Step 1: Label each supply with a place value.  I made the feathers hundreds, the pom-poms tens, and the eyes ones.  You can use any decorative accessories you like and choose which ones represent each place, just make sure to be consistent on each puppet so your child can also use them like flash cards later.

Math Monster Activity

Step 2: Cut out construction paper circles, 2 per monster.  I just traced a coffee mug onto my paper to get a good circle.

Step 3: Have your child choose any number and write it on one of the circles, then glue it to a wooden stick.  Even this part was great for LC because he needs the practice physically writing his numerals.  He does so much of his math in his head and is really awesome at it, but he doesn’t like to write the numbers down.  Making him write the numbers legibly and in a way that fit on the circle was a valuable exercise in itself.

Place Values

Step 4: Glue a second circle on the other side of the one with the numeral, sandwiching the stick in between.

Elmers Glue Pens

Step 5: Have the child identify how many of each place value piece he/she needs to represent the chosen number.  Then, it’s time to glue them on and make a monster!

place Value Puppets

Ta-da!  This monster {pictured below} represents 125.  One hundred {feather}, two tens {pom-poms}, and five ones {eyes}!  How fun is that?!  I have to say, I was impressed that the glue held all of the different materials, especially those glittery pom-poms which are notoriously tricky to get to stick on anything.

Place Value Monster Puppet

Let me just say that in case you couldn’t tell, Little Crafter LOVED this activity.  He had an absolute blast, and quite honestly, so did I.  We giggled, we talked, we counted…he even let me decorate one of them for him {mine’s the pink one}.  Eventually he wanted to make it even “trickier” so we decided to use buttons to represent the thousands place.

Place Value Monster Puppets

I literally had to stop the project because we had been crafting way past dinner time.  Someone was on a roll…

Place Value Puppets

Take a look at some of our Math Monsters!  The great part is, as fun as it was reinforcing the place values while we made them, we can still use them now that they’re finished!  Now, they’re just like super-fun flash cards.  I can hold one up and ask him to do the process backwards; look at what’s there and tell me the numeric value.  Can you figure out what number each of these guys represents?

Place Value Puppets

So, what if your kids are too young for place values?  Never fear!  You can make these guys into Counting Puppets instead!  Just put a number between 1-10 on one side and have them glue the correct number of accessories on the other.  Then they work as counting flashcards; the child can count the number of things glued on and practice their numbers!  See?  Still fun!

What do you think?  Would the littles you know enjoy learning with Math Monsters?  If so, I hope you’ll repin this idea!  The contest doesn’t start until Sunday, October 20, but when it does, I’ll be sure to let you know and provide a link where you can find and pin the contest image.  In the meantime, though, feel free to pin any of these images so you can get started with some Math Monsters of your own!

Place Value Monster Puppet


Hugs & Glitter,


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