sneaky math fun with our indoor lid toss

I’m on a mission to sneak in as much math fun as possible lately–trying desperately to have Maddy practice her basic facts, which she absolutely, totally, and completely despises doing. But which she absolutely,  totally, and completely needs to do.

So when we were hit with a surprise ‘ice day’ yesterday, I thought we’d play a game that required very little set-up, minimal clean-up, a little movement, and a teeny bit of math practice. And it included one of our favorite rainbowed, recycled items: lids.

We played a few rounds of Indoor Lid Toss before I decided to brave the slushy streets and take the kids to Owen’s buddy’s birthday party, but Maddy, Owen, and Cora liked it and some sneaky math practice was had.  Woot!

  • Indoor Lid Toss: The premise of this baby is totally simple: toss lids into containers marked with a number value.  When a player’s turn is over–and he tosses five lids–we added up his score.  Voila.

Setting up our lids and preparing our super-simple game

I grabbed a big tray and placed a red three-part server and several empty plastic containers (from our colors in a jar game).  I put numbers 1, 2, and 3 on the front server because it was closest and easiest to toss into; I put ’10’ on the teeniest plastic container, and 6, 8, and 5 on the others–just because I wanted Maddy to practice addition of different numbers and combos.

Then we found our big jug o’ lids, not our labeled Alphabet Letter Lids or Word Building but rather the blank ones we use for color games and counting and building. or   Maddy, Owen, and Cora each found five small lids, and they put a tiny blue sticker in the inside with ‘their’ letter on it–that way we wouldn’t confuse the lids.  (Plus, it was just a little extra writing practice for Owen and Cora.

I put tape on the floor where they needed to stand, I grabbed a big piece of paper so we could keep score, and I put Brady in the kitchen.

And then the game began!

Owen might have been confused about where to stand. Heel to tape, or toes to tape?

We put Cora’s tape closest to the ‘board’, and Maddy and Owen stood a bit further back. The kids threw their lids, and then when they were finished, we added their scores, two numbers at a time.  We used wait time–no rushing or calling out answers!–and I encouraged the kids to use their on-hand calculators to count if they needed to, rather than calling out a guess. Before the next person tossed, we added.

For Cora, my focus wasn’t so much adding; it was more basic number recognition. Could she identify the number on the container? If not, I’d help her along: Is it a 7 or a 5?

With a whole lot of jumping, a lot of hooting, and a bunch of cheering, we played until their little arms were tired and it was time to get dressed. We didn’t focus on a ‘all-time winner’–rather, we added scores as we went and whooped it up when someone landed a ’10’.

And for the last two ‘money rounds’, everyone stood at the closest tape mark and dropped in their lids–I was up for the higher amount of adding practice anyway.

And that was that–about 20 minutes of easy, focused (super-sneaky, if I do say so myself!) math fun, not to mention the little bit of exercise from some balance and gross motor skill work.

Happy, happy ice day!




  1. says

    I love this! We are lid hoarders at our house too, and I think my 4 year old son (I have an Owen too!) and my first grade class would both love this game! Thanks for the great idea :)

    • amy says

      You are too sweet–love to hear that this may work for you, and love that you have an Owen, too!

      Best to you!

  2. Jaynee says

    I absolutely love all of your ideas. We just did Christmas candy experiments with our saved lids. My son loved it and has asked every day since if we can do it again. I think he is going to love this idea too. Thanks so much for all of the wonderful ideas and for being an inspiration to other moms–our children (and us) thank you!

    • amy says

      Thanks so much for your kind words–you are TOO sweet to take the time to write. I am glad that some of the things here worked out for you and your family! Woo-hoo!

  3. Mama Meg says

    I had to tell you that this game was a HUGE hit in our house yesterday morning! While my husband got a few extra winks, my boys (3 & 5) had a great time tossing away. My 5 year old loves math games so he was happy to keep score for all, and my 3 year old suprised me by playing for quite some time pouring the lids between containers! Thanks for another fabulous idea!!!

    • amy says

      You totally rock for taking the time to share this with me. SOOOO glad it worked out for you and your boys, and hopefully your husband can find some way of entertaining the two littles so YOU can get some extra zzzz’s next weekend. :*)


  4. Lindsay Lebresco says

    I love this idea. Anything you can turn into a competition will get my DS going. We don’t have a lovely collection of caps but I thought a coin toss might prove to be an interesting twist to this. We’re going to try tomorrow!

    And I meant to tell you, we did the New Year’s Interview sheets & they were great- I know they’ll be a blast to read through next year & for years to come!

    • amy says

      Lindsay! Coins are actually a super way of adapting this, too, and getting kiddos to count to higher numbers along the way. I may take the numbers off of our jars and have them take turns adding coins. thank you!

      And so glad the NYear’s interview worked for your fam. :*) Just remember where you put them!!

      Hope to catch you IRL soon, my friend!

  5. says

    Okay, so I feel like a slacker- I have to get started on my lid collection! You always have so much cool stuff to do with them.

    • amy says

      KIM! Don’t feel like a slacker! Just start saving–you’ll have a gazillion before you know it!


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