Numbers is the first place I think of using stuff....all kinds of stuff to touch and count and manipulate. Five year olds are very tactile. They are not that far removed from the stage where absolutely everything goes into a the mouth. Their fine motor skills still need work so big things are better, and I am always on the lookout for great things my Kinders can use as manipulatives for math. The more they touch, move, and manipulate stuff, the easier it is to understand those abstract things we call numbers.
The game is great for many different grade levels. It is simple, but the math concepts and thinking can be complex. The more you get your students talking about what they did, and what they were thinking, the deeper their understanding will be. Using math talks and sentence stems is a great way to get started. Here is one work mat I made to go with the eyeballs.
The game simply goes like this....take a certain number of things (in this case eyeballs or rings), count them so you are sure of how many you have. Then while everyone hides their eyes, you put some in your container. Everyone looks and tells you how many they see. Now for the thinking....how many are in the cauldron? When they tell you (right or wrong), ask them how they knew. "What were you thinking?" It is GREAT to get more than one way to figure out the answer. Check the cauldron to see if they were right. More discussion, especially if someone was mistaken. How could they think differently, what could they have done differently? My quickest student couldn't tell me how he knew. When he stopped and thought, the words he used were all wrong. So we talked about finding the words to explain our thinking. Building vocabulary...building number sense...getting ready to add and subtract. All wrapped up in this simple game.
You can create a simple recording sheet by inserting a table and some cute graphics onto a powerpoint slide. I made this one to use in a center with my cauldron and eyeballs.
You can change this game as often as you want. I use jingle bells at Christmas and white pompoms in January.
You can use seashells, party favors, glass stones from your floral department, counting bears, dinosaurs, frogs, and let your imagination run wild. Limit the number of manipulatives for struggling students and increase the number as students are ready. Turn their recorded games into number sentences when they are ready for more abstract thinking.
Most important...Have Fun (but don't let the Zombies get you)! Happy Halloween!