Making counting hands on is a sure fire way to encourage your kids to be more engaged with their numeracy learning. We teamed up our favorite Learning Resources fine motor tools with some cranberries, water and basic supplies to work on 1:1 correspondence and addition.

Materials needed:

The Set Up

This activity is really quick to set up. Simply add some water to the small bowl and put in a handful of cranberries. Lay out a few of the mini paint palettes (a muffin tin would also work), along with the dice and the three fine motor tools. If your little one tends to get enthusiastic with water, it might be an idea to put all of the materials on a large tray or even a towel.

How the Activity Works

I did this activity with my daughter who is 3.5 yrs old. She loves any type of fine motor activity and has been showing more and more interest in dice games. I simply asked her to roll the dice and count the dots on the dice out loud. She then was tasked with choosing a fine motor tool to transfer the correct number of cranberries into one of the mini paint palettes. As she added each cranberry she would count the number out loud. At the end, she also enjoyed counting the total number of cranberries in the tray.

The added sensory element of this activity really helped to engage my preschooler. She spent plenty of time just poking the cranberries under the water and watching them pop back up and float on the water’s surface. Throughout the duration of the activity she also really enjoyed exploring the different fine motor tools. Her favorite was most definitely the Squeezy Tweezers® because she thought it was so fun how the cranberries could fit perfectly inside the little scooper section. This tool is really easy to use for toddlers and preschoolers.

The Jumbo Tweezers and Tri-Grip Tongs required a little more patience and focus, but that’s not a bad thing at all. She had to problem solve as the cranberries kept slipping out of the grip of the tools. She maintained her focus and was patient, and was able to transfer the correct  number of cranberries with each tool.

Once she had completed three rolls of the dice I asked her to complete a little extension challenge. I asked her to add the total number of cranberries together. We counted each mini palette and then I helped her to count the total number which was great for building her number confidence. If you are doing this activity with older children you could add two palette’s worth of cranberries together each time, or even do subtraction or multiplication.

This really is a simple activity but the focus on hands on numeracy offers so many great developmental learning opportunities. The combination of water and fine motor tools adds intrigue and fun, while using the dice adds a big splash of surprise and a sense of suspense. Perfect for play based learning!