How many legs?

My son and I have had a few conversations about different types of animals, and we've sometimes mentioned how many legs they have.  As boredom has been setting in, I thought I could try an activity which would combine a little learning about different types of animals with a bit of maths, based on the number of legs different creatures have.

Animals and numbers set out ready to play

I printed some pictures of animals and wrote on their names as the small boy is currently enjoying trying to sound out words.  I then laid out some numbers (0-10 then 12, 14 and 16 due to the lack of number 1's in our set) and the pictures and asked the small boy to put pictures next to the number of legs the creature has.  He spent a while running round and coming back to this then doing a few more.  Eventually we ended up with the creatures sorted with the right number of legs after some counting of those shown on pictures, getting confused about whether antennae were legs, and finding a real woodlouse to put in our bug viewer so he could check it really did have 14 legs.  The woodlouse was subsequently released back where it was found, unharmed!

Creatures grouped by their numbers of legs, including a real woodlouse

We talked a bit about how some numbers, mostly the odd ones, didn't have any animals (the exception was a starfish with 5 legs).  We also talked about how the birds had 2 legs, insects had 6 and the spider and octopus had 8.  I was going to talk a bit about mammals, reptiles and amphibians but he seemed to be losing interest so I didn't bother.  Instead we moved on to some simple maths, adding the number of legs of two animals together.  He was more interested in this, particularly sums with addition of zero (snakes have no legs) which fascinates him at the moment.

We gave a bit of multiplication a go, introducing the multiplication sign and doing some multiplying by two.  We've talked about it before, and with some counting of fingers he got the right answers.  He then started asking about the percentage sign in the box of numbers, but he was clearly confused by my explanation of what it was for!

How many legs do you have if you have a crab and snake

All in all, it provided a bit of amusement on an afternoon where he was refusing to do most of the things I suggested, and he probably learnt a little about classifying living creatures and a little about maths.  We might give it another go sometime and see what he makes of it a second time around as we've still got the printed pictures (which I just found from a Google image search).