Even as an adult when I hear the word Math it sends a slight shudder down my spine. It’s just not something I have a natural love of… or a natural ability in either if I’m honest. That doesn’t mean that I have shied away from enjoying numeracy activities with my own kids, in fact, it has spurred me on to do them more regularly, but in a fun and playful way. In this blog, I’m sharing our favorite three Learning Resources® products for promoting early numeracy skills through sorting-based play.

Sorting Surprise Pirate Treasure

Just mention the word treasure and my three-year-old is 100% engaged! Anyone else’s little one obsessed with treasure chests and coins? It’s such a fun theme for a counting and sorting toy. This set comes with five treasure chests, each with a shape key, coins, and a fun surprise inside. My preschooler could not contain her excitement when she got her hands on all those keys!

There are so many different mathematical concepts being worked on when this set is played with. To begin with, your child has to recognize the shapes on the keys and treasure chests and match them to unlock the treasure. I like to add in the extra challenge of asking my little one to name the shape, as well as counting how many sides each shape has. If your child is younger, the set can be simplified by matching the colors rather than the shapes. The keys and locks are fantastic for strengthening those all-important fine motor skills.

On each treasure chest, there is a number between one and five. This is great for number recognition and vocabulary. Inside the chests, there is the corresponding number of coins. I think my preschooler’s favorite part is getting to post the coins through the treasure chest lids. She carefully counts them in, unlocks the chest, and repeats…over and over! A great way to extend the challenge is to ask your preschooler to choose several chests and add all the coins together.

1 to 10 Counting Cans

So much happiness in the simple act of opening, pouring, and playing! My three year old has always loved opening containers and boxes, tipping out the contents, having a little play, and then putting it all back in the pot (or leaving it all over the floor on the odd occasion!). This might seem fairly mundane to us adults, but so much learning can happen from this type of play. We’ve been having lots of fun recently with our 1 to 10 Counting Cans. These cardboard cans come with durable lids and are filled with a selection of brightly colored fruits and vegetables.

I love the way each can has vibrant pictures on the outside, as well as the number of the item inside presented in various formats. The contents are expressed as a number, a word, and in pictures, which is great for supporting the various stages of counting and number recognition.

This set not only supports sorting and counting, but it is a fantastic addition to pretend kitchen play setups. After my preschooler empties all the cans and counts their contents, she always puts all of the fruit and vegetables into a big basket and invites me to buy ingredients at her store. This naturally leads to further numeracy learning as I put in my order for two pineapple rings, five carrots, and a mushroom. Of course I also then have to barter for my haul to not cost me $57! The talk of currency is such an added bonus for her understanding of math and her vocabulary.

Counting Surprise Party

This set is similar to the pirate surprise set but offers enough differences to make it seem like a whole new learning experience for my preschooler. In the box, you get ten cute gift boxes, each a different color and with a number on the front. My little one was so excited to see what was inside each gift box! The process of opening the boxes is great for problem solving and fine motor skills. It requires little fingers to pop off the lid with just enough force to get their hands working hard.

Once open, lots of time was spent playing with the surprise items inside. From a teapot to a tiny guitar, the items are all detailed and of interest to little minds. It wasn’t until a few boxes were open that my preschooler realized there were counting dots on the underside of the lids. She enjoyed counting the dots as she pointed to them which was great for practicing 1:1 correspondence.

She also enjoyed putting the gift boxes in number order, and I loved how bright and colorful the play was. After a few turns, we started to incorporate some addition by each choosing a box, popping open the lids, and counting the dots we had. We would then add the numbers together to find our answer. This made addition simple, fun, and accessible for my preschooler. I can’t wait to add these to a sensory bin for lots of fun scooping and pouring.

Do you have a favorite Learning Resources product for encouraging sorting and numeracy skills in your preschooler? It is always so fun to see your little one engaging with their learning in a fun and playful way!