Teaching Math with Mary, Mary Quite Contrary: Preschool Lesson Plan for Spring Thematic Units

Teaching Math with Mary, Mary Quite Contrary: Preschool Lesson Plan for Spring Thematic Units
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Celebrate Spring with Flowers

Celebrate spring in your preschool classroom with the nursery rhyme “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary.” Preschool lesson plan ideas for math using flowers are ideal for this theme. It is perfect for spring since flowers are beginning to make their debut this time of year.

Your little ones will practice one to one correspondence, matching by color and shape and counting from one to twelve. You will even provide a patterning activity using this “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary” flower box activity.

The Rhyme

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells and cockleshells,

And pretty maids all in a row.


  • Students will count objects one to twelve.
  • Students will match according to shape and color.
  • Students will correctly use one to one correspondence.
  • Students will use basic patterning skills.

Materials Needed

  • Ten popsicle sticks
  • One egg carton
  • A shoe box that the egg carton will fit inside
  • Construction paper of various colors
  • Glue
  • Cardstock sentence strips (unlined)


Prepare for this activity by punching a hole in each of the 12 sections of an egg carton using a popsicle stick. Close the lid of the carton and turn it upside down. Place the egg carton inside the shoe box. Decorate the box to resemble a flower box. Make a dozen flowers using colored construction paper. Make several types of flowers and call them silver bells, cockleshells and pretty maids. Choose three or four different colors of construction paper for matching purposes. (Flowers don’t need to be complicated. Simple designs are best.)

Using cardstock sentence strips, draw a repeating pattern of flowers that matches the popsicle stick flowers that you have made. Make several different pattern cards, each with five or six flowers on them.


This activity is perfect for an independent math center. Place the prepared flower box and the flowers in the center. To facilitate this center, encourage the student to participate in the following activities:

  1. Match the flowers by color and shape. Have the student stick all of the yellow flowers in the flowerbox, then all the blue ones, etc. Then have the student place all the silverbells, cockleshells or pretty maids in the flowerbox.
  2. Count the flowers. The student will count the number of flowers from one to twelve. This can be modified for individual abilities.
  3. Teach one to one correspondence. The student will place one flower in each of the egg carton slits. The counting can be done as the student places the flowers into the box.
  4. Teach patterning. Use the flower pattern cards for this activity. Have the student recreate the pattern on the pattern card by placing the corresponding flower into the flower box in the same order as the flowers on the pattern card.

Your little ones will love this Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary preschool lesson plan for math. It will be more like play to them, but you can be sure they’ll be learning the whole time. You can be sure of one thing, this activity will be one of the most popular centers to pop up this spring!