Spaghetti Box Kids

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Kids’ Science: Count Stuff

August 18th, 2009 · 4 Comments

counting activity for kidsHere’s a few activities to improve kids’ counting skills. The activities are easy to set up and lots of fun. They are also fun around the house games you can play anytime with your toddler or preschooler.

What You Need:

-clear sandwich baggies
-masking tape
-lots of countable items: buttons, marbles, beans, beads, bottle caps, etc.

What to do:

Before the activity, label the baggies 1-10. Simply put a piece of masking tape on each of the baggies. Now write the number 1 on the first baggy, number 2 on the second baggy, etc. Have all your counting items in a bowl and ready to go.

Getting Started:

Let your child know that you’re going to play a counting activity. Empty the bowl of items onto the living room floor. Now help your child find one of something–one button, for example: put into the baggy labeled 1. Next, help your child find two of something–two beans, for example: put those in the baggy labeled 2. Next, help your child find three of something–three marbles, for example: put those in the baggy labeled 3. Keep going until you fill all ten bags.

Put the Bags in Order:

Now turn the baggies over, so the number is face down and no longer visible. Mix the order of the baggies. Now help your child order the baggies from 1-10. First find the bag with one item in it. Next find the bag with two items. Next find the bag with 3 items, etc. It may be necessary to empty the contents of a bag in order to count the items.

Number Detective:

Close your eyes and ask your child to remove one item from one of the bags. Have her put the item out of sight. Now open your eyes and play the part of a number detective. Examine the baggies and try to determine which one is missing an item. (To do this, simply arrange the baggies according to the number of items they contain.) Talk about the procedure as you investigate.

Switch Roles:

Ask your child to close her eyes. Remove one of the items from one of the baggies. Help your child investigate which baggy is missing an item. (Advanced: remove two items from one of the baggies. Now let your child investigate which items are missing.)

Make Number Patterns:

kids science counting activityRemove items from the baggies. Arrange them on a tabletop in the shape of a pyramid (ten items for the base, one for the tip). Now remove two items (one from each end) from the row that has six things in it. Remove four items (two from each end) from the row that has seven things in it. Remove six items (three from each end) from the row that has eight things in it. Continue the pattern. The result will look like a diamond. What patterns can you make with the items that have been removed?

There are many variations to these counting activities for kids that you can pursue on your own. For example, in the beginning– only make two buttons, two bottle caps and three beans available. Now help your child decide what to do with the limitations that have been imposed.

Best of Luck!

Tags: Kids’ Activities · Kids' Science

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rob // Aug 19, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    I like the activities here–they’re very simple yet engaging. The fact that the objects are tactile–and all different–improves the learning experience in my opinion.

  • 2 Spaghetti Box Kids // Aug 19, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Good point. The tactile component attaches physical meaning to the event. The feel of things (a bottle cap for instance) is interesting and memorable. It invites an empirical perspective–which you never get with video games or television. Big deal, right? –Yes, on a single occasion, but the significance takes hold when the method of play becomes routine (or is routinely absent).

  • 3 Christie // Aug 19, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I think these activities will promote learning because, being fun, they are so motivating! I know I am SO much more capable of learning something when it is meaningful to me, and by having various questions to answer or patterns to create, the children will be very interested in the process and the answers.

  • 4 Spaghetti Box Kids // Aug 19, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks for the feedback. You’re right, when the activity is fun, kids are definitely more motivated–they focus more closely and their attention span is longer. I think as parents we can spend less time obsessing about “teaching” our toddlers and preschoolers, and more time making sure they have a variety of wholesome activities. Stronger learning follows from the wholesome activities.

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