Helping preschoolers to work on their counting skills is so much more effective when it is hands-on and engaging. We love to add a bit of challenge by using products and materials which encourage counting 1 through 10 and beyond. In this blog, we share three of our most used Learning Resources counting products, which encourage my 3-year-old to count up to, and above, ten.
Number & Counting Building Blocks
Sometimes the best way to learn is simply through exposure. We love this building block set because there is a fun mixture of engineering and counting during the play. My preschooler enjoys all sorts of building materials, but these are particularly fun because she likes to add the number blocks to label her creations. As she adds the numbers, we are sure to say what it is and trace it with our fingers.
As you can see, she has lots of fun building creations. The various shapes of the numbers add a challenge in terms of engineering towers that are stable. There are also enough additional shape blocks so that the build session can go beyond just making towers. My little one often builds houses and gives them a number. Another excellent use for these number blocks is to use them as play dough stampers or paint printers.
Smart Snacks® Number Pops™
For obvious sweet treat reasons, these Number Pops have been a real hit with my preschooler. She spends ages just pretending to play shop with them in her kitchen. Some of the time, she pays absolutely no attention to the numbers and dots on them, but then there are other times when the numeracy element directs the play. On occasions, she uses the numbers as the popsicles’ price, and other times she puts the parts in two separate areas of her kitchen and then has to assemble the popsicles when a customer orders one.
The popsicles are the perfect size for little hands. They are very sturdy as with many Learning Resources products; they have enabled the popsicles to be used by multiple ages by merely adding a color matching component. This is a great way to support your preschooler if they are finding things a little tricky. You can encourage them to look for the matching colors and then figure out which one is correct by helping them to count the dots. We are also looking forward to using these for some sensory play by adding a base such as rice or even water when the weather gets warmer.
Connecting Ten-Frame Trays
This might not seem like an obvious choice for a three-year-old, but I feel this particular product is an excellent investment for preschool kids and even going through elementary school. Ten-frame work is a fantastic way to work on number sense, 1:1 correspondence, counting, and number vocabulary. You can simply set up the ten-frame trays with the two-colored chips, or you can use them with dice to play a game as we did.
We decided to start with a single ten-frame tray each and took it in turns to pop the dice and add that many chips. This was a fun way to make counting more engaging. Once my daughter had filled her tray, she naturally reached to add another tray. This was a perfect learning opportunity to explain counting by ten. Of course, she is not yet of an age where she will fully grasp this concept, but exposure is so powerful at this stage of development. We continued to take it in turns popping the dice and adding more chips to our trays. Using the chips is an excellent fine motor skill workout. She decided that the first to 25 would be the winner. This was a fun but simple game that helped to capture her focus. She loved that she could add the trays together to make bigger numbers. This will be a good product to grow with her as her early numeracy skills develop. It will be fun to use with themed counters, such as dinosaurs and insects, in the future.
Don’t be afraid to work beyond the numbers that your child is confident using. As long as you do it in a hands-on and playful way, there is no harm in giving them early numeracy exposure. It’s an excellent opportunity for them to learn through play and build their confidence.