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Toddler - from 37 to 42 months old

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Number Sense Activity

By Mary Perrin, edHelperBaby

  Something Different Activity
           Developing Number Sense:  The following activity will help your child recognize numbers one through fifteen and understand how written numbers correlate to a set of physical objects.

       Cut eight index cards in half.  Number the index cards with the numbers one through fifteen.   Obtain a ball of yarn.  Mix up the number cards and attach them to the yarn so that the cards are at least five to seven feet apart.  You can choose to hole punch the top of each card and tie it to the yarn or simply tape the cards to the strand.  Then set the yarn and cards aside for the time being.  Next, collect small items such as pieces of cereal and crayons.  They should be small enough to fit inside a sandwich bag.  Count out the items so that you have a pile to represent the number one, a pile of two items, and so on until you have fifteen piles each representing a different value.   Place the piles around the table so that your child can easily reach each one when seated in a chair.  Now that you have the initial set up down, you can begin the fun!  Make sure your child is not able to see your path.  Stringing the yarn around the house tucking a card behind a pillow, inside a shoe, or under a rug will make the activity more adventurous.  Make sure you leave one end of the string accessible since you will be giving your child the end as a starting point for his number card hunt.  Encourage your child to take hold of the string and follow it to seek the first number card.  (If you choose to hole punch the cards, you may want to follow him and snip the cards off the string with scissors.)   For each number card he finds he will stop following the path, run up to the table, find the pile that represents the number he found, and place the card and the items into a sandwich bag.  Then he will need to recall the last place he found a card and continue his search.  Continue until he has found the end of the string and matched all the cards with their corresponding value.  As an extension to this activity, encourage your child to line the bags up in order from smallest to greatest.  Assist him by making sure the number cards can be easily viewed through the sandwich bag.  Hone in on the process your child takes to accomplish this task.  Does he rely on the number cards to assist him, or does he recount the items in the bag to find the next one in the sequence?


  A Parent's Perspective
           This activity was a spinoff of a birthday party game my daughter played a while back where each child was given a different color piece of yarn and followed his/her color to reveal party favor prizes attached to the yarn.  Each strand of yarn overlapped and the kids were forced to problem solve on how to untwist his/her yarn from someone else's during the process of finding the little treasures.  Ava thought it was a lot of fun and clearly remembered the objective when I reintroduced this activity to her.  The only thing we changed was that instead of stopping after finding each number card, we continued and found all of them at once.  As she found each number card, she said the number and then counted up to that number.  If the number was ten or less, we used our fingers to also represent the number.  We ventured up to the table once she found all the numbers.  Since she ate two pieces of candy from one of the piles before I was even able to explain the purpose of the candy, we had to add a few more objects to the table.  When we were finished with the activity, she was able to pick a few healthy items to eat as her afternoon snack...we set the candy aside and she decided on eating the pretzels.  She used good number sense in choosing the fourteen pretzels over the two grapes.  It seemed she was able to catch on fairly quickly!


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