The other day when my daughter got out my entire supply of cupcake liners (without asking, of course), I had an “aha” moment. I spend time with her during the day doing letters and numbers and glittery art projects, and all the normal preschool stuff. But, visualizing numbers concepts can be difficult for a three year old. So, I made this little game to help her understand addition in a visual sense. Add in some manual dexterity exercises, and you have a game that’s inexpensive, fun, and promotes learning.
- Strips of paper, with numbers written on them. We only went up to 5, but you can go as high as you want. Also include any math symbols you want to incorporate. I did addition, but you could also do subtraction.
- Muffin or cupcake liners. These are the mini liners.
- Pasta. I was going to use beans, but figured that would get frustrating for little hands. Since your child will be picking up the pasta with tweezers, I would suggest a smaller, thinner pasta shape. I used gemelli, but penne or elbows would work well too.
- Tweezers. These were free with a coupon at Target. I think I have about 9 of them now. Just make sure you put the tweezers away after your child is finished, and always supervise him or her while they’re using them.
Encourage your child to pick up the pasta with the tweezers, and put them in the muffin liner that corresponds to the numbered strips of paper.
Once all the pasta is in the liners, take any two liners and place them next to each other with the math symbol in the middle. Count the pasta with your child, and explain what the math symbol means.
My daughter enjoys this game, and it’s something we can spend a few minutes doing together during “class time.”
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