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Feed the Penguin Math Snack: Ten Frames and Goldfish Crackers

Enrich your snack time with this fun *free* math activity that can be adapted for several kindergarten and first-grade math skills! This penguin math snack using Goldfish™ crackers or other small snacks and adorable penguin ten frame mats will get your students thinking while they munch. This activity is the perfect addition to a penguin or polar animals unit and is a great way to maximize your instructional time.

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Goldfish crackers and ten frame mats for a penguin math snack

Preparing This Penguin Math Snack Activity

Perfect for skill review and building number sense, this penguin math snack can be used to practice a variety of numeracy concepts. To prepare this activity, head over to the My Happy Place Free Resource Library to download and print the “Feed the Penguin” ten frame mats. You can print the color version or the black and white version—both are two-to-a-page. (The color version is great if you plan to laminate and reuse the mats!)

Next, decide which math skills you would like to reinforce with this penguin math snack.

Consider using these ten frame mats to practice:

🐧 one-to-one counting up to ten
🐧 matching a quantity to a numeral

🐧 counting to match a set
🐧 matching a quantity to a number word
🐧 solving addition problems within 10
🐧 solving subtraction problems within 10

Whichever skills you are working on, your students will need counters for this penguin math snack. Goldfish™ crackers work well, as would other small snacks. If you aren’t interested in using this as a snack-time activity, you could provide fish-shaped beads or mini-erasers.

use subitizing cards to challenge students in this penguin math snack

Using a Penguin Math Snack Activity to Build Skills

Before distributing fish crackers to your students, you will want to set your expectations. The kids won’t get much skill practice in if they eat their crackers right away, so let them know that you want them to wait before snacking! 🐟 You might consider giving the students a small cup (or napkin) full of crackers to start or holding some of the snack until after you’re finished with the lesson part of the snack.

Once your students have their penguin ten frame mats and their fish, you’re ready to practice!

Here are some options for delivering math problems to your students:

🐧 Write on the board
Simply write a numeral, equation, number word, etc., on the board and have students model it with their fish.

🐧 Display Flashcards
Use pre-made flashcards to display a number, expression, or picture for your students to model. These subitizing flash cards (on TPT or in the My Happy Place website shop) include several variations that keep students on their toes!

🐧 Give Oral Directions
Challenge your students’ listening skills by simply telling them which number you want them to show or by giving them a simple addition or subtraction problem to solve.

However you practice, keep it moving quickly, check for understanding continuously, and make this a quick activity so the children don’t have to delay their snacking for toooo long! 😋

Math Subitizing Cards – Number Sense Flashcards


Building number sense in young children is easy with this pack of 12 different types of math flashcards. These subitizing cards will help your students identify quantities quickly and will build their confidence, fluency, and understanding of numbers.

Read more…

Extending This Penguin Math Snack

If you have a little extra time, you can extend this penguin math snack with additional thematic activities. This video of penguin feeding time at the Dallas Zoo nicely sets the stage for the “Feed the Penguin” activity!

And after you finish the skills practice, consider reading a penguin counting book aloud while the children eat their snacks. Your school library might have Ten Animals in Antarctica by Moira Court or Splash: A Penguin Counting Book by Kristy Melville. Here’s a cute read-aloud video of the Moira Court book if you aren’t able to find a physical counting book in time.

If you’re interested in additional resources for a penguin unit, take a look at this collection of 30 penguin videos for kids! I also have several ready-to-go resources in my TPT shop and here in the My Happy Place store.

Penguin Activities Bundle: Penguin Informational Unit with PowerPoint, Penguin Math Puzzles, Penguin CVC Words Activities, Penguin Digital Activities

Interested in thematic teaching? Read more about it here!

children sitting on a classroom carpet engaged in thematic learning

Thanks so much for reading! Happy teaching! 🐧

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