Do you remember playing with paper fortune tellers as a kid? I remember folding the paper carefully, coming up with funny fortunes to write in the middle, and then using them with friends during the school bus ride home in junior high. It turns out those folded wonders are just as much fun today as they were 20+ years ago. When I saw how excited my daughter was over making a few this summer, I decided to make a few cootie catchers to practice math facts. (Anything to make math fact practice fun!)
When my daughter saw me making these, her eyes lit up. We’ve made several to practice addition facts. I keep them in the backseat of the car, where my daughter can often be seen opening and closing the folded paper while practicing math.
Forget how to fold an origami fortune teller?
How to Make a Cootie Catcher to Practice Math Facts
Start with a 6 inch square of paper. Fold the paper in half, creasing it, and then unfold it. Then fold it the opposite way, crease it, and unfold it.
Fold each of the 4 corners in towards the center of the paper (where your 2 crease marks came together).
Flip the whole thing over and fold your new corners into the paper’s center.
Finally, fold your creation in half, on one of those original crease lines. You should see 4 squares to put your fingers in to operate the cootie catcher.
Once you have it folded, you can write numbers on the outer squares. Open it up and write math facts. There will be 4 places, and when you close it and open it the other direction there will be 4 more. So, you can write 8 math facts on each cootie catcher. If you lift the flap of each math fact, you can write the answer underneath.
We created one for each number 2-9, skipping the +0 and +1 facts because they are so easy. That leaves room for +3 up to +9 facts.
Practicing Math Facts with a Cootie Catcher
Now it’s time for some fun math fact practice. Start by picking one of the numbers on the outside squares. Open and close the cootie catcher, up and down and side to side, as you count to the number chosen.
Once you finish counting, choose one of the math problems seen to answer.
What’s great is this fun way to work on math facts is self-checking. Your child can simply lift the flap to see if they are correct.
It’s perfect for kinesthetic learners. Plus you have the visual there, and if they read the problem and answer it aloud they are also adding in that auditory component. I love finding ways to work on math facts that use more than one type of learning.
You can easily modify this math fact activity to fit your child’s needs:
- The cootie catcher can be used alone, or your child can practice with a friend, asking them to choose the number and math problem.
- You can use it to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, or even division problems.
- Use the numbers you write on the outer squares to sneak in a bit of skip counting practice. We made some that counted by 3’s and 4’s to help with learning multiplication later.
- Toss a few in the car and your child can practice math facts on the go. (You may just be surprised how often they choose to pick them up.)
Your child can further personalize their math fact cootie catcher by drawing designs along the edges of it.
Watching my daughter use her cootie catchers for math fact practice brings back so many memories of making these silly little paper fortune tellers as a kid. But what I love most is that she isn’t groaning about having to practice those math facts. In fact, she has been asking me to make them for subtraction facts, now, too. I’d call that a parenting win.
You may also be interested in these fun math fact activities:
- Math Fact Races for Kinesthetic Learners
- Beach Ball Math Facts
- Subtraction Squish!
- Paper Math Games for Fractions and Multiplication from Kids Activities Blog