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Gotta love a math activity that takes 2 minutes to put together and keeps my son entertained for an hour. Several days in a row! For this activity, I just grabbed an old muffin pan, wrote numbers on construction paper, cut them apart, stuck them on with some rolled up tape, and voilà! Time to practice counting and one-to-one correspondence, all while sneaking in some great fine motor practice!
For our first time doing this activity, I wanted to do pompoms that were all different sizes. We’ve been working a lot the past month on quantity comparisons, and I wanted to keep reinforcing the idea that the size of the objects in the pile doesn’t change the number of objects in the pile. For example, 5 giant pompoms in a pile is the same number as 5 teeny tiny pompoms in a pile even though it looks like so much more.
Overall, my son loved the activity! He didn’t want to stop when it was time for dinner. Our one problem was that he did have trouble with some of the tiniest pompoms. He was so eager to count and going so quickly that he occasionally picked up two (they kind of static together if you’re not careful) and dropped both in while only counting that as one. He also sometimes didn’t realize which number he was supposed to drop into on some of the bigger numbers once they got really full.
Variations for Next Time
I think that next time I’ll color code them and have each number tag be a different color, signifying that it should have a different color pompom. My other set of pompoms is all the same size and a bunch of different colors, so I think those will work better for this in the future. (I really wasn’t going for a Valentine’s Day theme in July, but it does look pretty picturesque!) These ones are also more medium-sized. The tiniest ones were a little bit too tricky to handle for where he’s at right now. I’d rather focus mostly on the counting!
I also want to try a variation using our toddler tweezers set. These are so perfect for building up fine motor skills and developing the muscles needed to use scissors and hold a pencil. The blue and yellow one is a pipette for transporting water, so it obviously isn’t intended for something like this, but the other three all work perfectly for lifting the pompoms—and all work the muscles in very different ways!
The last idea I had to shake things up for this activity is to try making stickers with higher numbers. My son is mostly solid on one-to-one correspondence for numbers 1-10, but anything higher than that is tricky for him. I think this could be a great way to get in regular, daily practice with bigger numbers. I might take off the 1-10 stickers soon, and instead create stickers going up to 20 and adding in a random higher number or two like 25 and 30. That would give him something to work up to.
Watch us play Pompom Counting here! And feel free to comment with any ideas you have for modifying this easy preschool counting game!