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Learning Math with Safari Ltd. - Safari Ltd®

Learning Math with Safari Ltd.

Math can be fun! So many people are scared of math, but in reality, they are just scared of getting the wrong answer. With kids, math should be approached in a playful way...not in a drudgery filled drill and kill fashion. Math is creative and playful. It's full of experimentation and questioning. Safari Ltd. is known for Toys That Teach, and the products available offer a wide variety of ways to play with math and to boost your child’s skills, and most importantly, love for math! 

Sorting with Safari Ltd. Figurines

Sorting is a way of classifying how objects are alike and different. Items can be sorted by many different attributes:
  • Appearance (color, size, shape, etc)
  • Feel (texture, weight, etc)
  • Type
  • Habits (diet, movement, sleep, etc)

Good Luck Minis  and TOOB Toys are fabulous for sorting! There are so many different squishy little figures in the blind bag! Have your child dump out the bag and look at all of the good luck minis inside. Encourage your child to think of different ways they can sort the Good Luck Minis. Sort the minis as planned by placing them into piles or different containers.

Symmetry with Building Blocks

Symmetrical means that something is the same on both sides of a central dividing line. For example, each half of a square is symmetrical.

A fun way to explore symmetry is to play the I build, you build game with building blocks (that have duplicates of the same pieces), like TileBlox Magnet Tiles or BiOBUDDi Blocks. This is a partner game where one partner builds something, and the other partner has to reproduce a symmetrical structure next to it. It is helpful to use a two colored mat or a paper folded in half.

More information on Symmetry:

What is Symmetry?

BONUS: Additional math uses for BiOBUDDi Blocks



-Area and Perimeter

-Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division


Number Lines

Number lines are a visual representation of number order - a model that helps children see mathematical concepts and a means towards developing number sense. After repeated use of number lines, children will begin to visualize number lines in their heads and move towards more efficiently solving problems with mental math 

The BiOBUDDi Numbers Learning Building Block Set , is a fabulous tool for creating a number line! Encourage your child to line the numbers up in order. For younger kids, counting activities with the number line are the way to go. They can use figurines from TOOBS or Good Luck Minis as a place holder while they count each number to practice one to one correspondence. Encourage your child to place one figurine on each number as they count.

Another wonderful counting activity involves counting groups of  Good Luck Minis.  Encourage your child to use the Good Luck Mini figurines to represent the numbers shown on each of the BiOBUDDi blocks. Your child will count and make a column of animal figurines that corresponds with the number shown on the BiOBUDDi block (#5 = a column of 5 figurines). Have your child create the columns of figurines above the corresponding numbers on the Number Line created with BiOBUDDi organic building blocks.

For older children, you can use the number line to solve simple addition and subtraction problems. Give your child an addition problem (equal to less than 10) and have them solve the problem by making their Safari Ltd. figurine jump along the number line. The figurine would start on the first number given in the problem, and then jump forward the number of spaces that corresponds with the second number in the problem. For example, if the problem is 5 + 3, the figurine would begin on the first number (5) and then jump forward the corresponding number of spaces for the second number (3) to arrive on the sum (8). To solve a subtraction problem, your child would be jumping the figurine backwards instead of forward. For example, if the problem was 9 – 5, they would place the figurine on the first number (9) and then jump back the number of spaces corresponding to the second number (5), thus ending up on the answer (4).

 Additional Number Learning Resources:

Sumoku Game

 Lauri Number Puzzle Boards & Pegs

Smart Snacks Counting Cookies

13 Activities to use with Counting Cookies Blog Post

Smart Snacks Number Pops

Learning through play  Number Pops Blog Post

Mini Muffin Match Up


Addition- Making 10 with Snap Cubes

Have your child use two different colors of Snap Cubes to make different combinations of numbers that equal 10 (10+0, 9+1, 8+2, 7+3, etc). Ten is an important benchmark number for developing number sense,  and  knowing the different ways to make 10 helps children with fact fluency.


Place Value with Snap Cubes


Snap Cubes are a fabulous tool for place value because they can be made into tens rods or taken apart to represent ones. A great place value practice activity is having your child use Snap Cubes to represent 2 digit numbers with rods of ten and single cubes for ones. For example, if your child sees the number 32, they would build 3 rods of ten (equals 30) and 2 single cubes (equals 2). You can write two digit numbers on index cards or sticky notes, or you can often find free sets to print.


Nonstandard Measurement

with Snap Cubes & Safari figurines


Your child can use snap cubes as a nonstandard measurement tool to estimate and measure  Safari Ltd. Large Animal Figurines or other household objects. Encourage your child to first predict how many Snap Cubes it will take to equal the length/width of an object. After making an estimate, have your child check their estimate by hooking the Snap Cubes together one at a time in a long rod until it is equal in size to the object. It is important to remember that when measuring, the end of the measurement tool needs to be flush with the edge of the object being measured.

*Non-Standard Measurement*

Using objects (units) that are uniform in size to measure the length of another object. Identify length by stating how many units (with no gaps or overlap) equal the length of the object being measured.

Some examples of Nonstandard measurement units would be: Snap Cubes, BiOBUDDi Blocks of equal size, paper clips, pennies etc. 

*Standard Measurement*

Using a universal measurement tool to measure an object. Identify the length of an object in standard units such as: centimeters, inches, feet, etc.

 Additional Math Uses for Snap Cubes:

-Build Number Sense

-Addition and Subtraction

-Build Numbers Preschoolmom free Snap Cube Number Mats


Graphing with Safari Ltd. Figurines 

Graphing is a vital way to summarize data in an easy to understand visual format. It's important for kids to know how to interpret and create various types of graphs. Using hands-on material is a wonderful way to introduce kids to the world of graphs. We love to use Good Luck Minis  or TOOB figurines for graphing because their small sizes make a perfect hands-on and fun math tool!


Creating Bar Graphs with BiOBUDDi and Safari Ltd. figurines

A bar graph is a chart that is used to compare groups of data. In bar graphs, bars or columns are used to represent the amount of things in each group

Help your child decide on what type of data he/she wants to use to make a graph. They need to choose categories of items that can be counted and compared (types of animals, types of sports, different colored items, etc). I suggest keeping the number in each category below ten. We often use figurines from TOOBS  or Good Luck Minis to sort into categories. My students or children will then count each figurine in a category and record that number. After all categories are counted, encourage your child to use   BiOBUDDi  Blocks  or Snap Cubes to build columns that represent the total from each category. Lay the columns next to each other to compare. Label what each column represents. You can place them on a piece of paper and label the paper or use sticky notes.

Creating Pictographs with Safari Ltd. figurines 

As an example graphing activity, your child would begin by sorting the figurines (see sorting described above). After sorting the figurines, your child will lay each category of figurines into parallel columns to make a graph. Have them count each column and talk about which has the most, the least, or equal amounts. You can take this a step further by labeling the graph axis with numbers. We like to use BiOBUDDi Number Blocks (if the categories have fewer than 10), or you can simply use post it notes, pieces of paper, or draw and label the graph on a piece of large paper. 

Additional math uses for Good Luck Minis and TOOB figurines

  • Use as props for story problems
  • Counting
  • Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division


Hands-On Multiplication 

How many of us remember the tediousness of learning our multiplication tables? Memorizing multiplication facts can be a bore for most kids. It's a rare child that enjoys simply doing drills with flashcards. Kids can learn facts more quickly with hands-on activities.

This cheerful colorful multiplication counting game is a wonderful way to encourage your children to practice multiplying. The layout gives kids a visual and way to see the relationships and patterns of multiplication facts.


Multiplication with Snap Cubes

With Common Core and new standards in many states, kids are learning to use visual models and hands-on materials for multiple strategies and other math operations. Models help students develop deeper conceptual understandings of math operations. Arrays are a visual model for learning multiplication.

Your kids can use Snap Cubes  to make multiplication arrays. Give your child a multiplication problem, and encourage them to use the Snap Cubes to make an array that represents the problem.

Multiplication is repeat addition, and an array is a way of visually representing repeat addition by using rows and columns. For example, 4 x 3 is essentially 4 + 4 + 4, and an array would represent this by showing 3 rows with 4 objects in each row:




Arrays can also be used for division.

More resources on multiplication arrays

What are multiplication arrays?

Arrays and Multiplication

Arrays and Division


Perimeter with Snap Cubes

Perimeter is the distance around a 2D shape. Kids delight in finding the perimeters when building enclosures for their animal toys!

Your child can use Snap Cubes to build basic shape outlines, and then they can count the number of cubes around the edge to find the perimeter. For example, a rectangle with 6 cubes on the top and bottom and 2 cubes on the side would be 2 + 6 + 2 + 6 = perimeter of 16 units. A fun activity is to have kids build zoo or  farm fence enclosures for Safari Ltd. TOOB Figurines, and then find the perimeter of those enclosures. Snap cubes can also be used to find area of a shape.

More information on Area and Perimeter:  

Math Antics-Perimeter

Math Games

Research has shown that play is an ideal way boost engagement and more efficiently increase learning. As a teacher, I found that games were the ultimate way to get students to actively engage in practicing and retaining math skills. In addition, playing math and logic games builds cooperation, communication, math vocabulary, and supports different learning styles. In the classroom, students engrossed in game play gives teachers time to observe and work with small groups or individuals. 

The Sumoku Game is a unique crossword-like number game from Blue Orange. It is a true test of mental fortitude. With five different games for 1 to 8 players, this is a great game for helping kids develop skills in math through play.

Pixy Cubes is a creative logic game that contains three different activities! Play the challenge cards or design colorful pictures with 16 vibrant cubes.  You can sharpen your skills in spatial reasoning and memory in the challenging speed and memory games. 

Shopping is a fun pretend game for kids that promotes math skills. You can set up a pretend shopping experience with the Pretend & Play Calculator Cash Register from Learning Resources, play money, and any type of toys/snacks/trinkets that you want to use. Set up a check out area with cash register and shelves or table display with priced items to "buy". An alternative is to have items on display and make a price sheet to display versus placing price on the actual item. This activity can be adjusted for difficulty by using single numbers (such as 2) for prices or by using more challenging amounts (such as $3.75). 






Anji Audley is an early childhood educator with experience in grades Pre-K through First. She is also a mom of two active and creative boys  ages 9 and 13. Anji is a strong advocate for play-based learning. She infuses learning with STEM activities, play, and art to inspire discovery and creativity. 






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