Preschool and kindergarten students should be able to identify numbers, count, write their numbers, identify which numbers are bigger than another, and eventually, be able to do some simple addition and subtraction. This can be a daunting task, and sometimes, some at home review can be very helpful. But it doesn’t have to be worksheets! In fact, kids this age learn better when the activities are multi-sensory. So…to help my child with some of these concepts this summer and make the lessons more interesting, I ordered these counting bean bags from Educational Insights.
They are little hand held green bags, with numbers 1-20 written on one side, and numerical words on the other. Red bean bags are odd numbers, and blue bean bags are even. The elementary teacher in me was thrilled. This is like the PERFECT math tool for early learning, especially for kids who respond to various stimuli to learn concepts. (What child doesn’t?) We’ve had these bean bags for one week, and already we play different games every day. Here are some of my favorites. I included the concept objective as well as the learning style the game prioritizes. Hopefully, you will find these games fun and educational for your little one, too!
1. Skills: Number Identification/Even and Odd
Learning Intelligences: Visual, Auditory
1. Ask your child to line up the bean bags 1-10 or 1-20, whichever she is comfortable doing. If she doesn’t know all these numbers, introduce one or two each day. For example, this week, we are working on identifying “11” and “12,” so those two are in our line up and games each day. Begin by asking your child to point out specific numbers. “Where is four? Where is ten?” Use the numeral side, and if possible, use the word side. He can ask you to identify numbers too!
2. Line up the numbers again. Ask your child to close her eyes, and remove one number. Ask her to identify the numbers missing. If she can’t do that right away, invite her to use her finger and count each bean bag until she reaches the missing one. When this becomes easy, take away two or three bean bags. Eventually, encourage her to count by twos or fives through this exercise, as you remove every other number or every fifth. (Woohoo for skip counting!) Once she is comfortable with that concept, introduce the idea of even and odd. (Even numbers can have pairs, odd cannot. Use manipulatives, such as toys, to show the concept of pairs.) Remove all odd numbers and ask her to fill in the blanks. Do the same with even. Then, when that concept is mastered, have her line up all even numbers and then all odd numbers. (By the way, the concepts referenced in this section may take months to master.)
2. Skills: Number Identification/Counting/Bigger, Smaller
Learning Intelligences: Visual, Kinesthetic
1. Ask your child to randomly place the bean bags around the room. Have your child stand on one bean bag. Call out a number and have your child hop from the starting bean bag to the one you called out, without stepping on the floor. She can jump from bean bag to bean bag to reach her goal. Eventually, ask her to tell you which number is bigger, the one she was on first, or the one she was on second. If this game is initially difficult, start with 3-5 bean bags and add more as she is able to identify more numbers.
2. Line up the numbers. Call out a number. Your child needs to find that bean bag and toss it onto a pillow. Move the pillow further away as she improves her aim! If your child cannot identify the number, it goes back into the “review” pile, and she gets another chance to toss it next time it comes up.
3. Skill: Early Addition/Early Subtraction
Learning Intelligences: Visual, Tactile, Sensory Learning
1. Choose some manipulatives in the home. Try to choose two different colors to account for easier identification. We used pretend fruit and vegetables. Turn the bean bags over so the words are facing your child.
Give your child a pretend spatula. Ask her to flip over one bean bag with the spatula, like she’s making a pancake. Whichever number comes up, ask her to count that many vegetables. Then, have her turn over another bean bag with her spatula. Have her count that many vegetables, preferably in a different color, so she can see her two separate piles.
Next, place the two bean bags next to each other, with the manipulatives underneath. Ask your child to count the first pile and then the second, and then reiterate the math fact. 4+3=7. You can play this game with subtraction too!
2. Place the bean bags around the room. Play music and have your child dance. When the music stops, you call out a number and she must find it and stand on it as fast as she can! When she finds the number, remove it from the pile. Then, play more rounds until all the numbers are gone.