Montessori style hands-on maths workjobs: Counting 1 to 10

Following on from yesterday’s post about teaching children to count to 5, here are some ideas for extending counting to 10. Again, all you need is 10 of some kind of container, something to count and numerals to order (or already marked on the containers.) If the child is required to order the numerals themselves, then including a number strip to follow means that they can do it independently without already knowing the order.

Kinesthetic learners learn best through hands-on activities, however all young children need plenty of experience with manipulating concrete materials to develop early maths concepts. Workjobs are explained to the child (catering to auditory learners), demonstrated to the child (visual learners) and then completed by the child (hands-on or kinesthetic learners.) There is no need to use dry math work books in the early stages when these basic concepts can be so easily developed with materials that are enjoyable to use and simple to make.

For children who do not yet recognise their numerals, this workjob is very simple and requires them only to match the number on the plastic balls to the corresponding number on the iceblock tray. I would then alter it into a counting activity by using plain ping-pong balls (no holes) with dots or tiny stickers on each one to count and match to the correct number.

In this activity the child counts the number of stamps and pokes a matchstick through the hole underneath the correct group. The card is self-checking because when you turn over to the back, there is a circle around the correct hole.

This "Princess rings" activity is a favourite of my girls. 10 tiny white jewellery bowls are set out then jewels with the numerals 1 to 10 are placed in order next to each bowl and the rings are counted into each bowl. The rings come from the wedding favours section of my local discount store. We made up all sorts of extra stories about how the princesses shared their rings out and had a lot of fun with this. Sometimes a good story adds so much to the fun of the activity!

The child orders the silver stars (bought from a party supplies shop) from 1 to 10 then counts the stickers on each golden star before matching them to their pair.

Foam stickers on baby food jars and some cheap party bead necklaces cut into lengths make this a bright and attractive counting activity. After ordering the jars from 1 to 10 the child counts the number of beads on each string and drops them into the correct jar. Not a good one for absolute beginners as the beads are quite small and it is easy to miss-count as the higher numbers are reached.