Tag Archives: Counting

Create Your Own Number Book

I remember making one of these in kindergarten.  Ok, honestly my memory doesn’t work that far back but I do remember seeing the one I made in kindergarten.

J’s is not quite as fancy but it served the same purpose and he is just as proud of authoring his very first book.  We even added it to his bookshelf and he often picks it out for us to read together!

PREP: I prefolded and stapled the pages together. (My teacher used a hole punch with rings to connect the pages.) I had a sheet of number stickers from an old workbook with both the numbers and objects to count.  This made the prep-work simple since all I had to do was pull out one sheet of stickers.  I did quickly add some stickers of like objects, cut into strips for him to count (a strip of 3 smiley face stickers, 4 stars, 5 balloons, etc.) and some individual stickers of a group of objects for him to count (a bouquet of flowers, a basket of eggs, etc).

ACTIVITY: We went through and wrote one number on each page.  I then gave him the sheet of number stickers and he matched the stickers to the correct page.  He then counted the items on each sticker to place on the correct page. We gave his book a title, “J’s Number Book” (genius I know!) and he had his very first book.

We did this activity at home while I fed baby brother.  It required very little physical help from me.  My job was basically to encourage.  This would be a great travel activity.

Counting Beads

I’m always trying to think of different uses of the same old toys.  This set of lacing beads from Melissa and Doug has found many uses, all of which have been winners for J.  This week I’ll highlight some of the ways we’ve used these beads. 

J set the number beads in the correct order and then created a “graph” of sorts by lining up the corresponding number of cars beside each bead.  In hindsight, I should have set out cars that were all similar lengths.  There was no planning involved in this activity though.  I just needed something to hold his attention long enough for me to feed his brother.  It worked :)

Dot Marker Counting Cards

I made some quick counting cards and J used the dot markers to fill in the correct number of dots in each rectangle.  I got the initial idea at Children’s Learning Activities (I just can’t find the exact post).

This could also easily be done with stickers, stamps, finger prints, candy/manipulatives.  Change up the material you use and toddlers think you’ve given them a brand new activity!

Homemade Game using Magnetic Pompoms

We recently played this game and I wanted to hurry and get it posted in case anyone out there was making Magnetic Pompoms to give as a Christmas gift.  All you have to do is add dice to the gift for an extra activity!

What you need:  Magnetic pompoms (or any type of marker really, dot markers, M&Ms, coins,…); Magnetic surface, Die (I found extra large foam dice at Target for $2), and your playing board of choice (you will need enough for each player to have their own board) 

How to play:  1st player rolls the die and gets to place that number of pompoms onto their board.  2nd player follows. Continue until someone fills all spaces on their board with pompoms to win.

Simple enough!  This is a good way to encourage counting and even basic addition and subtraction if wanted.  Obviously the greater number of empty spaces on your board, the longer the game will last (and the more counting practice).  You can use multiple dice at a time to encourage higher counting if your game board has enough empty spaces.  Add a color spinner for an extra element of fun and some color matching (they must use both the correct number of pompoms AND in the correct color). 

Scroll to the bottom of this link for lots of board options to choose from or you can make your own!

Age attempted: 31 months (if they can count to 6, they can play this game)

Homemade Toy: Thomas Puzzle

J absolutely loves puzzles.  He also adores anything Thomas!  I LOVE a bargain, so this homemade toy is perfect for both of us.  My goal was to create a Thomas counting puzzle.  I tried finding one to buy and only found a wooden puzzle for $10.  It wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, and the price was nowhere NEAR what I was hoping for.  So I made a Thomas counting puzzle myself.

I searched online for images of all the different Thomas trains, hoping to find #1-20.  This was the longest part of the process.  It turns out they aren’t so easy to find which I found odd  considering their popularity.  I also could never find number 13, perhaps they’re superstious and left that one off? **If anyone DOES know of a #13 train, please let me know. **   Our puzzle stops at 12 for now, but I can easily add on to it in the future.

If this works, here’s the link for the pdf I made with all the pictures. Thomas puzzle

The puzzle is meant to be in one long line, I just split it up for the photo

I printed the pictures of each train and glued them (using Mod Podge) onto the back of some small foam puzzle squares I found at the dollar store.  This step took me probably 15 minutes.  I used 2 store-bought puzzless to have enough pieces for trains 1-12. Some of the longer trains take up two puzzle pieces.   

The nice thing is J can also turn the puzzle pieces over and do the store-bought puzzle too.  So 3 puzzles for $2 seems to be a good deal in my book and it was so easy to make!   I think this would be a good homemade Christmas present for toddlers

  Age attempted: 29 months, definitely could be done much earlier

Edited to add: Here’s the list of Thomas trains #1-12.  Since J wants to know their names, I added those on my finished puzzle too.

1 Thomas

2 Edward

3 Henry

4 Gordon

5 James

6 Percy

7 Toby

8 Duck

9 Donald

10 Douglas

11 Oliver

12 Alfie

Number of the day is two

This was a simple but effective activity for J when we were focusing on numbers and counting.  I just drew out the blank rectangles and titled the page in a matter of seconds, took out some stickers and had J place two stickers in each rectangle.  He had no trouble to with this, though I do think doing the number three instead would have been quite difficult for him.  We counted each sticker as he placed them in the rectangles. 

A side benefit to this activity was it gave him a review of a rectangle (often confused with a square for J) and it ended up being a good fine motor activity since he had to place the sticker inside the rectangles.  When all the rectangles were filled with two stickers, he asked me to draw more rectangles to fill.  I think he liked it!  As you can see in the picture, he helped me draw the last few rectangles.  :) 

Age attempted: 24 months

**This would be a good plane activity similar to the color matching post.

Sticker Activity on the Plane (or at home!)

He asked me to draw more smiley faces on the paper afterwards.

In my post  about our last plane trip, I mentioned a sticker activity that J did on the plane.  It worked perfectly for the trip so I thought I would share.

I had some smiley face stickers in various colors that J has for whatever reason fallen in love with.  On a sheet of paper I made 5 large circles using the colors of the stickers I had (purple, red, green, yellow and pink).  I gave J the sheet of stickers along with the paper with empty circles and he placed the stickers inside it’s circle match.  We then counted the number of stickers inside each circle, which in our case was different for each circle. 

This offered practice matching colors, some fine motor practice (peeling the stickers off and placing them in the correct spot on the paper), and then with counting too.  It wasn’t too hard for J, which is ideal for plane activities.  I like the activities we do to keep him busy, involve my help at times, but also something he could do on his own.  Because there was a set goal to be accomplished, it kept him busy until all stickers were transfered.  As he’s getting older, TIP: I like our plane activities to have specific goals to encourage him to stay with it longer than he might if left on his own since my offical goal is to keep him occupied and content for the duration of the flight.  If he wants to do more stickers afterwards that’s fine, but I know he will at least remain occupied until the end of the activity. Of course this activity doesn’t have to be done on a plane. 

You could do the same type of activity while practicing shapes and number recognition too (in fact, there’s a number activity coming up in a future post).

Age: 25 months

Hands on Counting

I thought I’d share something my husband did while practicing counting with J on the fly after dinner.   He would hold an orange and say “How many oranges is Daddy holding?”  J would answer, they would count them out together and then he would ask if J wanted to hold the same number of oranges.  They started at one and worked their way up until there were no more oranges :) They counted out the number of oranges in their hands each time.  J had fun trying to hold all those oranges like Daddy could.  It made it a game for him. 

 It was simple but effective.  Gotta love a dad that sees the opportunities to teach during an after-dinner snack!

Age: 26 months

20 Month Old Busy Box

I put together these activities for a friend’s little girl.  While mommy is serving in Iraq, I thought this busy box might help to keep her little one busy and hopefully even allow her dad some much needed time off from entertaining.  Most of the activities are homemade, repurposing items from around the house as is my norm. I housed them in a simple decorative box.  J’s own “busy box”  is kept in a closet and the activities are only brought out at certain times throughout the week.  This helps keep it’s novelty.  Some of the activities are repeats from the 1 year old Busy Box I made my niece awhile back, though I tried to make them a bit more difficult for the older age.  You’ll also notice that these activities are mostly ones I’ve mentioned in previous posts.  When I make a busy box, I try to pick the most successful activities from J’s experience, many of these are motor skill activities.  Some of these activities are things Ella can enjoy now and some she will grow into in the next few months.

You’ll have to excuse my poor decorating abilities.  That is certainly not my forte.  Most of the original toys that I made for J aren’t decorated at all.  J never seemed to mind, so hopefully little Ella will look past the covers and still enjoy the meat of the activities!

1.  Pushing Puff Balls – this is a fine motor activity and has always kept J entertained; see this post for more info

2. Color Sorting Pipe Cleaners – again a fine motor activity and I added practice with colors; this is probably the favorite homemade toy for J; see this post and this post for more info

3.  Color Wheel – practice with colors and fine motor skills; you can use the wheel in other ways too. See this post and this post fore more.

4. Puzzles -These foam puzzles were one of the best buys for J. They were just $1 at our local grocery store and I picked them up on the fly one time.  When I saw them there months later, I bought a few more as gifts. I bring the color puzzle on plane trips sometimes since there are few pieces and it’s very light. 

5. Family Bag – this is similar to J’s family magnet pics.  I added each family member’s name to Ella’s pics, laminated them (with contact paper) and gave her a little purse to carry them in.  J has loved his family pics since before he was one.  I thought adding the names could encourage name recognition.

6. Seed Family Worship CD – I had previously sent one of their CDs to my friend while she’s in Iraq, but thought her daughter might like one too.  These cd’s are really great and not just for kids IMO.  They are an excellent way to help us write God’s Word on our hearts.  See this post for more.

7. Fish Counting and Matching file folder game – J has a similar matching game, I just made this one a bit more durable by adding it to a file folder for safe keeping.  The envelope holds the laminated fish cards to match as well as the fish to place on the counting page.  I found the counting template here from Tot school and have used it many times with J.

8. Sponge Jewelry – a fine motor activity and again a favorite of J’s, simply thread the sponges onto the pipe cleaners.  I found a greater variety of sponges for Ella’s jewelry.  A girl needs to match!  See this post for more info.

Homemade Number Puzzles

I found these puzzles online (I’ll add the link as soon as I find it again!).  I thought they were so cute and decided to make them myself (as if we don’t already have enough number puzzles!).  I only made numbers 1-5 because I wanted to be sure J enjoyed them first. They are just glue and foam and weren’t too difficult to make. 

I have to be honest, the first time J saw these didn’t go so well.  He mostly wanted to try and pull the little circles off of the pieces. When I made it clear this was not allowed, he wasn’t too interested in the game. He made it through number 1 and 2 and went off to play with something else.   He was 23 months at the time and loved puzzles, just not these!  I was a bit disappointed.    So I put them away for awhile and tried again when he was 25 months and he flew through them so easily. 

As a review of the activity itself, I’m not that impressed.  He really matched the colors more than focused on counting and color matching is not something he needs practice on.  All in all the puzzles are cute, but not worth the effort IMO.  I don’t think I’ll be making more.  If I had it all to do again, I would at least keep the colors the same for all the pieces to encourage him to actually practice with his numbers and counting. 

23 months

Age attempted: 23 months (not interested in them); 25 months