Looking for a way to get into the Halloween spirit without leaving the house? Try doing some Monster Math! These activities for children aged six and younger require little preparation, and can be done with just a pencil and a piece of paper.

If you have them, you can make these activities more fun with some glue, scissors, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, pom poms, buttons, felt shapes, popsicle sticks, glitter or fabric. Got your materials? Great! Let’s get started.

 

Roll a monster 

  1. Draw a head and a body of a monster on a piece of construction paper.
  2. On the side of the page, make a list of body parts, like eyes, legs, horns, teeth, and claws. Leave space next to these parts for your child to write a number.
  3. Provide your child with dice, and ask them to roll a number for each body part. So, for example, ask them to roll to see how many eyes the monster has. When the number appears, count the dots on the die together, and ask your child to write this number next to eyes. Then, ask them to illustrate the monster with this number of eyes.
  4. To make this more fun, provide your child with art supplies like pipe cleaners, buttons, and googly eyes that they can use to collage onto the monster for the various parts. A great way to practice counting and to review parts of the body.

Number monsters

  1. Cut construction paper into small squares, or provide your child with index cards.
  2. On each square, write a number or, if your child is old enough to do so, ask them to write the number themselves. For younger children, write the numbers 1-5, but older children could go up to 10.
  3. Then ask your child to make each number into a monster. Younger children can draw freely, but older children can be given math related parameters. For example, ask children who can count to include the correct number of claws on each number monster, so that the number three becomes a monster with three claws, the number four becomes a monster with four claws, etc.
  4. Again, to make this more fun, provide craft supplies like pipe cleaners, buttons, and stickers. 

Construction paper with the number 3 and some googly eyes Decorated number 3 with crayon, button and googly eyes

Shape monsters

  1. Provide children with pieces of paper or felt cut into triangles, squares, rectangles, and circles, and glue. (If you have pattern blocks, you can also use these instead.)
  2. Ask children to use these shapes to build a monster. As children make their monsters, point out the names of the different shapes.
  3. When they are finished, count the total number of triangles, squares, rectangles and circles they used.
  4. Hang your monsters up as Halloween decorations.

Build a Monster

  1. Ask your child to use legos, wooden blocks, or whatever you have available to build a 3-D monster.
  2. As they build, point out the different 3-D shapes, like spheres, cubes, and pyramids.
  3. As with the shape monsters, count how many of each they use, and comment on the decisions that they made for each shape. For example, talk about how a monster’s horns look like pyramids.
  4. When you are done, you can display the monsters, or knock them down and build more.
Mathangi Subramanian, Ed.D., believes stories have the power to change the world. Her middle grades book, Dear Mrs. Naidu, won the South Asia Book Award, and her picture book A Butterfly Smile was inducted into the Nobel Museum by Laureate Dr. Esther Duflo. Her novel A People’s History of Heaven was longlisted for the PEN/Faulkner award, a finalist for the LAMBDA literary award, and named a Skipping Stones Honors Book. A former public school teacher, senior policy analyst at the New York City Council, and Fulbright Scholar, she currently consults for Sesame Workshop. She holds a doctorate in education from Columbia Teachers College.