Buttons on a gingerbread man

Here’s a fun seasonal game to help young mathematicians to understand addition as putting numbers together and subtraction as taking numbers apart.

Learning Stages

To play this game, you'll need 5-10 buttons, plus a pencil, in addition to the gingerbread printable.

Drop a few buttons on the gingerbread man page and write how many fall on and off of the gingerbread man. For example, if 3 buttons land on the gingerbread man and 2 buttons land off, write the equation: 5=3+2. Spill the buttons several times to get different combinations.

As your child is decomposing numbers into pairs, talk about the different combinations that make 5. Point out that there are a variety of number partners that make any given number. Young children should work with numbers 10 and under, decomposing the numbers into multiple different ways.

Drawing or writing the equations is always an excellent way to document learning and practice writing equations. Have your child work with smaller numbers first until they become fluent enough to move to larger numbers.