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One Tool – Many Uses

by Early Math Counts

Last week, I wrote about egg cartons as a tool that is easy-to-find, free, and versatile.  You can’t imagine my excitement when I find these eggs at our local Costco.

eggs 2 dozen

I immediately started imagining all of the ways I would use this empty carton in my classroom, if I still had one. As a sorting tool, the lid is perfect.  It has 3 sections and manipulatives can be presented either already sorted, or mixed-up, and in need of sorting. Look at the 2 examples below.

egg 9

egg 1


Which way would you present the materials?  Do you think there is value in both ways?  You might consider presenting the colored blocks one way, and then the next day, present them in another.  Watch and see how this changes the way the children approach the materials.

You might also present the beginning of a pattern…

egg 5and then ask the children to match the pattern.

egg 6


Children might create their own patterns…

egg 7and you can finish theirs or talk with them about their intentions.

“This first row looks like the pattern is green, blue, green.  Should I put blue next or another color?”

“Your next pattern has 2 yellow and then a green.  What should I put next to complete the

Later, you might present another tool, like a pair of tongs so the children can use them to put items into the carton.

egg 3

Depending on the materials you put out, the tongs might be very tricky to use.  Softer materials like these pom-pons are much easier to pick up with tongs.

Ask the children to create a pattern with the pom-pons.  Remember to only ask for children to think about one attribute of the materials at time so they can focus on that aspect.  Here I asked for pattern of large, small, large, small.


I think it might be worth the $40 dollar annual membership fee at Costco just to be able to buy eggs in these cartons.  They are so great.

Can you think of other interesting ways to use this versatile tool?




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