Wednesday, August 8, 2012

One-to-One Counting with Flashcards & Pom Poms (Preschool Activity)

This is a great little activity for practicing counting.  We've already done this activity several different ways (I'll be sharing a couple more of those variations in the future), but I thought I'd start with the easiest one.  You'll know what level your child is at and you can easily change the activity to suit their needs.

The basis of this activity is to place some number flashcards on a tray, choose color-coordinating pom poms (the right number of pom poms to match the number on the flashcard and the color on the dots of that flashcard), and then have the child count out the right amount of pom poms for each number.  It's basic, but (at least in my opinion) effective.

This activity helps build the following skills:
  • number recognition
  • number order
  • one-to-one counting
  • color matching
  • hand-eye coordination
  • doing things in order
  • focus/concentration

For this activity you'll need:

A serving tray with compartments.

For activities like this, I prefer a tray that has a middle compartment and then several compartments around the outside.  But you could also make this work with a different type of tray.  Just think through how you'll make it work and be creative.

I've found several random/ugly trays that are great for preschool activities like this at the thrift store.  My general rule of thumb is, if it looks like a total piece of junk and is something I would never actually use in my kitchen, it's probably great for preschool activities.  Case in point: the lovely pink tray you see here.  :)

Number flashcards.

Of course we use the number flashcards that I sell in my shop (buy them HERE individually or HERE in the value pack).

There are loads of reasons why I prefer these flashcards to the ones you can buy at the store, but I won't get into that right now.  If you're interested I'd recommend reading The Anatomy of Great Math Flashcards.  Anyway, for this particular activity, I prefer using the mini flashcards that are included in the set.  (Just because the mini cards fit on the tray better.)

But even if you didn't have these special flashcards, you could just write the numbers on a piece of cardstock and color the dots in yourself.  (But, you didn't hear it from me!)  ;)

Colored pom poms.

If you're using the flashcards we have here, you'll need:

  • 1 red pom pom
  • 2 orange pom poms
  • 3 yellow pom poms
  • 4 green pom poms

If I remember right, I think I bought ours at the dollar store.  I also just saw some fancy sparkly pom poms in the dollar section at Target yesterday.  

Set it up

To set up the activity, place one flashcard in each compartment.  I always go clockwise.  It's the Montessori training ingrained in me.

Place all of the pom poms together in the middle compartment.  I try to mix them up a little if I can.

Let's do it!

First, I point to the first number (in this case, the 1).  I ask my daughter what number it is.  If she knows it by sight, that's fine.  If she's not sure, we count the dots on the flashcard to figure out what number it is.

Then I ask her to find one red pom pom.  She finds it and places it in the compartment with the 1 flashcard.  "One."  She counts it out loud as she puts it in.

Then we repeat the whole routine with the next flashcard.

"What number is this?"
"Two."  (Counts the dots.)  "One, two."
"Can you find two orange pom poms?"
(Counting the pom poms) "One, two."
"Great job!"

Same for three...

...and four.

Then we go back to 1.  As we put the pom poms away (going in order again), we say the number on the flashcard and count the pom poms in each compartment again.

And you're done!

Try this activity with:

  • Different trays (more compartments, different shape tray, etc.) 
  • Other objects to count (buttons, hair clips, erasers, crayons, etc.)
  • Larger numbers
  • Numbers that don't go in numerical order (i.e. 3, 9, 12, 15) to focus more on number recognition


Find more fun and easy preschool ideas on the Preschool page.  You can also find them by clicking on the Preschool button in the header.  Enjoy!   

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