Bats in a cave

Build that all-important number sense with our disappearing object game.

You'll Need

  • Small objects (bats)
  • Empty margarine tub or similar (cave)


30 minutes

If you left a room knowing that there were ten cookies on a plate, and then came back to find only seven, you would automatically know that someone ate three cookies. You know this without having to add, subtract or count on because you have good number sense. Children develop good number sense by having many concrete experiences with numbers from an early age.

Bats in a Cave is a fun, and slightly spooky, way to help your child develop a strong number sense. Gather some small objects (dry black beans are perfect) that you and your child can pretend are bats. Depending on their skill level, preschoolers and kindergartners should start with three bats, and first or second graders should start with five bats and progress upward with the bat count. Also needed is a small, solid container that can't be seen through, such as a margarine tub, to place over the bats as their cave.

  1. Count the number of bats out loud together with your child to establish that there are three (or five, six, ten, etc.).
  2. Ask your child to turn her head while you hide a few of the bats in the cave (under the tub).
  3. Next, ask her to turn back around and look at how many bats are still out of the cave.
  4. Using this information, she should be able to figure out how many bats are in the cave.

How batty can she go?