Rocks, pebbles and sand make great materials for filling and emptying containers and weighing which are the early math concepts of measurement and weight.
Ideas for sand play: rocks and pebbles and sand and some old plastic containers are all you need. Of course you can get very creative and add lots of other equipment so some more ideas are here.
Painting on pebbles to create a counting story:
we all know the much loved 5 little ducks is a great introduction to learning our numbers.
This is also about sequencing - what comes next.
Can you stack 5 rocks?
Can you stack 1 white, 1 black etc?
How many can you stack?
This is all about number sense and patterning from Reggio-Inspired Mathematics.
Pebble graph for sorting size and colour from Mariah Bruehl's book,Playful Learning: Develop Your Child's Sense of Joy and Wonder
Sorting,classifying and arranging rocks by weight or size or colour at Playful Learning
Addition using number cards and pebbles from Garden Mama
Rocks and pebbles and sand can also teach us many other things... They can teach us about sharing and about nature and what is really important.
Do you know the story about the teacher who had a container and filled it with rocks and said to her class "Is the glass full?" and the class said yes.
She then added a whole lot of tiny pebbles into the same glass with the rocks and said "Is the glass full now?" and the class said yes.
She then added a whole lot of sand to the glass and said "Is the glass full?" and the class said yes.
The teacher explained it was an analogy for life, "The rocks are the important things - your family, your health, your children. The pebbles are the other things in life that matter, but on a smaller scale. The pebbles represent things like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else—the small stuff.
If you spend all your time on the small stuff, the material things, you will never have room for the most important things.
Get more early math ideas on my PINTEREST