Counting Around The House – Math Activity

preschool activity

This activity was inspired by my Halloween candy counting over at my other blog. Seeing how resistant my son is to writing tells me one thing, that he needs to practice lots, but it needs to be within activities he loves.  This is a math activity with gross motor and some writing on a vertical surface which is great for beginning writers because it forces the correct wrist position and strengthens the correct muscles in the hand and arm.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper ( I get this craft paper in the mailing supply section of Walmart, way cheaper than real butcher paper), markers and something to put the paper on the wall with. I use painter’s tape, and I use a lot, so my toddler doesn’t pick it off.
  2. Draw a house.
  3. Decide what things you want to count and write them on. I made the windows and doors spots to write the numbers in.
  4. Invite your counter to read the questions on the poster.
  5. Count !
  6. Come back and fill in the answers.
  7. I wish I had a magic wand for my son to make him believe in his ability to write, to know that he doesn’t have to be perfect and to understand that just because reading is easy doesn’t mean that writing should be or that there is anything wrong because it’s hard. So instead we are doing lots of fun writing… and hoping we turn the corner gently on his terms if possible.  He likes to “split the work” so I made sure we were counting some things with two digits, I’d do one or make dots for him, and he’d do the other. I don’t think it’s worth it to push to frustration, instead finding ways to make him willing is more my style.
  8. Search your house poster to see which question has the biggest number and which is the smallest.

Counting Books

On the Launch Pad: A Counting Book About Rockets by Michael Dahl was a great find, my son loved counting down from 12-1 with the bright illustrations, simple text, and hidden numbers on each page. Something that seems simple but was really awesome was that each page had the number written as a word, shown as a digit and as dots to count. You can take the time to count each dot, read the word or simply recognize the digit!

1, 2, buckle my shoe

1, 2, Buckle My Shoe by Anna Grossnickle Hines is a wonderful first counting book and a favorite of my daughter. The text is the simple rhyme; the pictures are photos of quilted numbers and buttons.  The buttons correspond to the numbers and are so bright that they practically beg a child to touch and count them. My daughter who is 14 months loves to push the buttons, trace the numbers and laughs at the hen. Very sweet book.

How Much, How Many, How Far, How Heavy, How Long, How Tall Is 1000? by Helen, Nolan has been sitting patiently on my shelf waiting for my son to be ready to read it. I used this in a math unit when I was a student teacher and absolutely love this book. The whole concept of this book is to explain the concept of 1000. We often teach our kids to count to 100 but don’t pay the same attention to getting them from 100-1000. This book takes it to the next step and demystifies the huge number 1000. It’s interesting; it uses examples kids can relate too, and it gives many scenarios so those cogs turning in your child’s head has lots of chances to catch! I read it to my son for the first time yesterday, and I loved being there for those moments when I know he just got it!

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  1. anonymous says

    Another great idea, thanks! My son also resisted writing for quite awhile. Although he is getting better and less reluctant, I’m still always on the lookout for ways to sneak in some writing practice or other fine motor activities. One small activity that got my son writing just a tiny bit on a daily basis was having him mark off each day on the calendar. I found these free printable super hero calendars online. This has also helped him with number recognition for numbers larger than 10 and he enjoys counting the days until special events such as his birthday, Halloween, etc..

  2. Georgine says

    My biggest chlallenge is not to push. My daughter actualy writes well and can read, but because she is a perfectionist, she is reluctant. Her Montessori teacher tells me my daughter does her practicing at school and that is enough. If I push, she’ll never like it. Still, I want her to love to write and read (as opposed to being read to). Such a delicate line between encouraging and pushing. Thanks for the idea!

  3. sara says

    Another way for your kids to practice writing on vertical surfaces is to give them dry erase markers. Dry erase markers will wipe off glass. Have them write on mirrors, windows, or sliding glass door (as we do.) My kids love this and it saves on the amount of paper we use. I use our door to write down assignments for the day which they erase as they complete them. I also will write a phonics rule (such as oa) and all the words that go with it (boat, goat, moan). My daughter loves to erase them as she reads them correctly so she can see how much longer our phonics lesson is.

  4. nikki says

    My 3y/o loves to write on foam letters with a pen. The texture is fun for him and the pen shows up very well – using foam letters means that the “shape” is already there and he’s just writing on top of it.

  5. says

    I ran across this post today and it spoke to me because I can identify with #7. You put how I was feeling into words perfectly. Recently my own son has become frustrated when he writes letters and he never used to, he would just happily write what he saw around him. Now he wants his letters to look exactly like my handwriting. I even tried showing him some old drawings of mine my mother had saved with beginnings of my own writing on it. I love this activity!

    • admin says

      I am so glad I am not alone. My son likes writing more now but drawing is still a struggle because he has such high expectations. So much comes so easily to him at school but not this so he tends to shut down. It’s a challenge that we are working on.

  6. says

    I pinned this awhile back, and we did it today. I just wanted to say that my son is the SAME way with writing. He can read and even do simple math, but he hates writing. It took me awhile to figure out that he thinks it should be perfect, so he doesn’t even want to try! He’s only 4.5, so I haven’t pushed him so far. Good to read about your approach.


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