5 Ways to Play Build a Fence

Over in our TpT store we offer a free printable math activity - Build a Fence. The activity is so fast to prep - no cutting required on the game mats and the number cards take less than a minute to snip.

To the included game instructions, it is perfect for students who need practice in:
  • numbers to 20
  • counting out groups of objects to model a number
  • comparing numbers

Number Sense

Children, either independently or in a group, will build a fence with popsicle sticks on their game mat to match a number card from 11-20. After building (encourage verbal counting) encourage math talk! Talk about:
  • how many more sticks needed to make 20
  • how many more sticks than 10
  • is it an odd or even number
  • it is bigger or smaller than the last fence you built
  • how much bigger or smaller
  • count the sticks again, touching each stick (great for students without 1:1 correspondence) 
There is no 'winner' in this game, just lots of counting and number sense. 

Today however, I would like to share another 4 ways to use the game so you have 5 alternative ways to use this resource once you make it. 

Addition Game

  • each player has a mat
  • take turns to roll the die
  • add sticks to match your die roll
  • encourage awareness of how many more needed to make the full set of 20 - ask students questions to foster this, e.g. how many have you added in total so far? how many more do you need?


  • encourage students to make repeating patterns using colored sticks
  • students can record their patterns on scrap paper before they make a new one 


  • students take 2 cards and subtract the smaller number from the larger number
  • students build a fence to show the answer, e.g. 15-11 would yield a fence of 4

Compare Fence

  • students play in pairs
  • each student take a card and builds their fence
  • fences are compered and the biggest/smallest is determined 
  • challenge students to find the difference in the size of the fences and record as an algorithm on a whiteboard

 We hope this posts gives you some creative ways to use this resources. If you are not in a position to print at the moment, you could play by building a fence with sticks directly on the table. Our printable pages add an element of fun and engagement that is often needed to motivate children, but behind the printable pages are solid and essential skills and concepts.

Hop over to our store to find this pack - FREE: