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Math Activities Using Pretzels for Kids

by Audrey Lucas, studioD

Many elementary school students struggle with learning the complex relationship of numbers while studying math. While some children easily retain information by seeing and hearing it, tactile learners need a more hands-on approach. With the ability to perform equations with concrete objects, students better understand mathematical concepts. Though pretzels aren't listed among the super brain foods, they can provide students with a snack while doubling as a tool to work out math problems. For a fun educational activity, grab a bag of pretzels and challenge kids to dig in and practice their math skills.

Counting and Estimation

A bag of pretzel sticks works great for a game of estimation. After kids make guesses on the number of pretzels in the bag, they can empty the bag and count out the pretzels to see how close they came. With all the pretzel sticks laid out, children can then place them in groups to practice counting by fives, 10s, 50s, 100s and more. Younger children can use the pretzel sticks to work on counting by ones and assigning numbers to objects.

Addition and Subtraction

Adding and taking away concrete objects helps children understand the concepts of addition and subtraction. Students can work out simple equations, such as 2 plus 3 or 8 minus 2, by lining up pretzels in groups and counting them to find solutions. They can even advance to adding up and subtracting two-digit and three-digit numbers using pretzel sticks. For each place setting, the children can line up the correct amount of pretzels and then add all three places to find the right answer.

Division and Multiplication

Math students can practice division by starting with a large number of pretzels and breaking the pile down into smaller groups. To solve the equation 12 divided by 2, the children would take 12 pretzels, divide them into pairs of two and count up six pairs. For a multiplication lesson, students can reverse the process and set out six pairs of two pretzels or three groups of four pretzels. With so many number combinations, the pretzels will keep students focused and entertained while learning fundamental math skills.


Math students can use pretzel sticks to create shapes, such as squares, rectangles, pentagons, hexagons and more. This three-dimensional approach to learning allows students to use their hands and get involved, rather than just viewing shapes on paper. They can then study area and perimeter by measuring the sides of the pretzel shapes. For a fun challenge, students can even attempt to build a pretzel cube using glue.

About the Author

Based in Southern California, Audrey Lucas has nine years of experience teaching preschool children. She contributes to the parenting section of her local children's magazine. Lucas graduated from California State University, San Marcos, in 2006, earning a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies with an emphasis in literature and writing.

Photo Credits

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