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Bugs in a Jar Counting Activity

There are many ways to incorporate counting on a day to day life of a child. This activity will do that and more. It allows for counting, emotional regulation, discussion about science and social interactions. It’s the perfect exercise to explore some science activities and spark new ideas.

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Activity PDF

Get the children excited with this 3D game of counting bugs!

There is something fun and exciting about counting when items are hidden or in a jar! This isn’t a complicated activity and can be reused for different purposes.

All you need is a couple of mason jars and some small plastic bugs. Fill each jar with water and different amounts of bugs and seal it up. You can change things up by adding sparkles or colored water. Make sure there is a strong seal on the jar when you are finished. Plot their guesses on paper and then compare to the right answer.

This activity supports many different areas besides math. The children will have to take turns, chat with their friends and it can spark ideas for creativity in other areas of the classroom.


For each jar you will need:

Mason jar

Food coloring

Small plastic bugs


Piece of paper


Book – “Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!” By Bob Barner (Optional)

Learning Outcomes






Counting in a meaningful way in play and daily living


Step 1:

Fill up the Mason jar with water

Step 2:

Have a couple of children gather at a table

Step 3:

Add any food coloring of choice – not too much, just enough to tint the water. You can also add in sparklers for extra fun

Step 4:

Add in several bugs and seal tightly – Could hot glue for extra security. Repeat this for a couple of jars so you have variety with different amounts. Number the jars.

Step 5:

Have the children guess how many are in each jar and plot their guess down on the paper

Step 6:

Finally let them count how many are in them and plot it against their guess.

Step 7:

Read the book “Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!” to inspire more ideas

Playful Questions

How many bees do you count? (can change depending on the types of bugs in the jars)

What color is the water?

What is your favorite type of bug?

Where do bugs live?

How many bugs are there in all the jars?

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