Need a quick prep ideas for math activities? If you remember me mentioned about popsicle sticks being my favorite math materials, yes it still apply until now. Popsicle stick math activities are soooo versatile, you can come up with many different topics to be learnt form using this inexpensive supply.
Activity: Counting to 10 with popsicle sticks
Recommended age group: 3-6 years old
- popsicle sticks/craft sticks (I used the colored jumbo craft sticks)
- 10 disposable plates (or any containers you can put label clearly)
- marker/pen to write the numbers
Preparation time required: 5-10 minutes
Learning objectives: Counting to 10, color grouping, number sequencing.
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How to play
Miss U (3y 1m) just started learning to count. She already recognised the numerals from 1 to 10. She already knew how to show me the numbers 1 to 5 using her fingers (6 to 10 is a bit trickier for her left hand fingers). So I thought I can introduce her on counting to ten.
Two months ago I attended one Montessori workshop and I was quite amazed with how they taught math with the mate
rials, how children were introduced to the concrete concepts of quantity before continuing to the abstract context of ‘numbers’. They I searched further about their math materials and how they use it during the lesson.
One of them is the spindle box method.
Montessori spindle box is a set of two boxes. One box holds 45 wooden spindles, the other one is an empty wider box divided into 9 compartments in it, labeled from ‘0’ to ‘9’. The child would then put the spindle into each compartment starting from ‘0’, with the number of spindles to follow according to the numeral labels.
Basically the main idea is, for the child to recognise the quantity, of ‘how many‘.
So I recreate similar ideas, but with popsicle sticks instead of the wooden spindles.
Here I used small disposable plates as the containers.
I also label each plate with the numbers in three forms; the numerals, the wording in English, and the wording in Bahasa Indonesia. This is also to help Miss U with her reading vocabularies.
I used these colored popsicle sticks, and asked her to group different color for different plate. This also developed her skills in grouping in colors.
You may use the plain/natural colored popsicle sticks, they will do just fine too. I just like to use the colored ones on this. Afterall, those young kids usually couldn’t resist colorful objects. 🙂
And this what my daughter and I did.
I placed the heap of mix colored popsicle sticks in one box. And I arrange the empty plates near her, starting from the smallest number to the biggest. I started with pointing the plate and read the number, and ask for (how many) (which color) sticks. Like, “Ok, may I have one – green stick please?”
Then, “Now can I have two – pink sticks please?” And so on and so forth.
Of course sometimes she needed help to count the bigger numbers. The challenge for her was, to be able to count correctly, to avoid skipping any sticks or double-count some sticks. When she got bored with the sticks, she played with the plates, arranging them in one line. Here, practicing her understanding of number sequence.
Have you tried using popsicle sticks with your kids?
Let me know your thoughts!