Let’s get counting with these space counting mats for addition and subtraction. Add some planets, the sun and a moon and off we go! There are links to 16 more space activities at the bottom of this post so don’t forget to scroll down!
Preparing your space counting mats
- Download this free printable (below).
- Print off each page. Use card stock for the planets for durability.
- Laminate the 2 space counting mats. This way kids can write their answers using dry erase markers, or use little balls of play dough as counters without damaging the mats.
- Cut out the planets and laminate if you wish.
- Gather some counters to use. I used non-stick gold stars and puffed corn, but black beans would make great meteorites!
How to learn with these space counting mats
Lay out all the planets (plus the sun and moon) and go through each one, checking pronunciation. Please make sure your kids realise that the pictures are NOT to scale. It would be good to show a picture of the planets revolving around the sun with correct relative sizing… you can easily find some good ones with a google search.
Planet distances from the sun
If you’ve shown a picture of the planets revolving around the sun (and explained how the moon goes around earth) they will understand that each planet is a different distance from the sun, on its own orbit. Normally they’re spread around in every direction, but if they were one day to line up, you could easily tell which planets were closer to the sun and which were further away.
Line up the planets in numerical order from the sun to neptune and compare it with the googled picture to see their order by distance. Please note, I made the sun number 1 although it’s actually a star, not a planet. And I included earth’s moon as number 5 for the simple reason that it’s good to have 10 objects when we’re practicing addition and subtraction. Make sure you have a little discussion about this with your child if you don’t want them to mistakenly believe the sun and moon are planets.
Depending on ability you can limit the difficulty by only using smaller numbers. Just make 2 sets of planets if you wish to be able to use the same number twice, for eg. 3+3.
Choose 2 numbers and place them on the circles. For mental math, simply add the two together and write the answer in the third circle, or use the planet that has that number on it.
To use counters, place the 2 numbers down and then count out the correct number of objects for each. To use a ‘count all’ strategy the counters can be placed all together. To use a more advanced ‘count on’ strategy, make sure the counters are placed so that the 2 groups of objects are separated. Then, the child starts with the bigger number and counts on from there to add the second number.
In addition it doesn’t matter what order the 2 numbers are placed on the mat. However, with subtraction the larger number needs to be first so that’s a good place to start before asking children to work independently with the subtraction mat.
When using counters, children place the first number of objects on the mat and then separate out the second number of objects to get to the answer. They can take that second number off the mat completely or push them down to the bottom of the rectangle so the remaining objects are easy to count.
You can download these Space Counting Mats HERE!
I hope your kids enjoy these and wish you happy teaching and learning!
Looking for more super space activities?
You’re sure to find some you love from these great bloggers!
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
Outer Space Bingo // Playdough to Plato
Rocket Name Puzzle// Teach Me Mommy
Space Theme Sensory Bin // Pre-K Pages
Space Counting Mats: Addition and Subtraction // Liz’s Early Learning Spot
Solar System Scavenger Hunt // Mom Inspired Life
Space Themed Matching Cards // Powerful Mothering
Outer Space Pattern Block Mats // The STEM Laboratory
Google Drive Space Facts Activity // DIY Farm Wife
Stars in Space Sticky Wall // Modern Preschool
Space Theme Grid Games // Stay at Home Educator
Counting On Planet Puzzles // The Kindergarten Connection
Aliens in Underpants Save the World // Adventures of Adam
Play Dough Constellations // Play & Learn Everyday
Solar System Bracelet // Still Playing School
Space Sensory Bin // Sugar Spice and Glitter
Space Syllables // Fairy Poppins
Space Themed Number Writing Practice // Preschool Inspirations