The mind of preschooler is an endlessly interesting thing. One surprise to many parents is that even when a child has known how to recite the numbers from one to ten or even up to twenty for many months, she still may not be able to look at a small set of objects and actually count them. Somewhere between the ages of two and five, most kids make this leap, but it doesn't happen all on its own. Like so many things, it takes a lot of practice.
And our preschoolers are up for practice. They love to practice all manner of things, and counting is certainly a favorite. Unprompted, they'll practice counting cookies, pennies, beads and indeed, pretty much anything that catches their eye. For more fun counting times, here are a few cleverly creative ideas that parents have submitted to our Savvy Activities Encyclopedia.
Counting Beans - Keep a plastic container filled with different beans—all colors and sizes. On a rainy afternoon, spread out a sheet or blanket on the floor and pour the beans out on a baking tray on the sheet. Give your toddler different cups, spoons, muffin tins to move, sort, count, and compare beans. You can make observations about numbers, sizes, textures, colors... the variations are endless!
M&M Math - Dump a bag of M&Ms on the table and ask your child to sort them into different piles, by color. Then ask her to create vertical lines to show, without counting, which color has the most M&M's. You can add to the game by asking other questions such as: Which line has more M&Ms, blue or red? Which line has the least? After she has predicted the answers using her m&s "graphs," ask her to count each to be sure the answers are correct. You can also add and subtract using M&M's as manipulatives. For younger children, sorting and color recognition would be appropriate.
Button Collage - Try this fun activity to practice counting and sorting, and end up with 3 pieces of artwork! Collect an assortment of buttons before starting. You may find that you have extras around the house that came with clothes or you can buy some at a fabric store. Write the numbers 1, 2, and 4 on separate sheets of construction paper. Next, have your child sort the buttons by the number of holes each has, placing buttons with one hole on the sheet marked "1," two-hole buttons on the sheet marked "2" and so on. When all of the buttons have been sorted, your child can use glue to create one-hole, two-hole and four-hole button collages on the construction paper.
Counting Sticks - This is an activity to help your toddler with counting. Take large tongue depressors and glue different amounts of beans or fuzzy pom-poms onto them. Make enough sticks to show numbers 1-10. Let your child help you count each bean or pom-pom that is on the stick. You can write the number at one end of the stick, or even spell out the number on the back of the stick. You might also put google eyes on the stick to make it look like a caterpillar or a snake.
We have loads more pre-math activities that the little ones adore here. Do take a look!
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