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Bucket maths game

What you need

  • Containers
  • Water
  • Sand
  • Chalk or paper numbers to label buckets


This activity works to develop your child’s early maths skills, specifically developing their understanding when it comes to comparing quantities, filling and emptying, exploring volume and density.

The experience

Gather approximately 5 to 6 different sized containers and place them outside or on an indoor surface that can be easily wiped clean such as a kitchen floor. Encourage your child to grade them by size as well as by capacity. Offer water and/or sand to fill them. The exploration is endless. You can talk about how much sand/water will fit into the containers – providing a cup to scoop and pour can provide the opportunity to count how many cups of water will fit into the container. Ask questions of your child, but ensure you make a good range of comments as well as questions. Our recommendation is four comments to every one question. You can talk about your own experimentations as you explore alongside your child. E.g. ‘I wonder how many cups of water I can fit into this box… I will try and see… 1, 2, 3…’ 

As well as your child enjoying scoping, pouring, filling and emptying, if using sand you could try making sand castles, or enjoy making marks with your hands.