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When it comes to math activities for young children, there is no denying that lots of opportunity for meaningful, hands-on engagement with counting and numbers, such as counting and number games, are essential. After all, reciting number words – even in the full and correct order, is not the same as counting correctly.
Counting meaningfully requires children to correctly apply the cardinal principle – the understanding that the size of a group of objects is determined by the last number reached when counting the set. One important way we can support a child’s understanding of the cardinal principle is involving them with lots of regular opportunities to count groups. Making these experiences fun and playful is essential to engaging a child’s attention with the act of counting. The number ladybugs used in the activities shared here are simple to make and fun for children to use in counting and number matching activities. They can also be used as children begin to learn to combine two amounts to form addition sentences.
The gems used to make these ladybugs are small so please use your own best judgment when deciding if your child is old enough for this resource. It is not suitable as a learning tool for children who are still mouthing toys and other non-food objects regularly.
How to Make Number Ladybugs and Leaves
You will need:
- Small glass gems – either red gemstones or clear gems and red nail polish
- A black paint pen – Uni Posca pens work well
- Mod podge or finishing spray (optional)
- Green craft foam
- If using light colored gems, paint ¾ of the rounded top of the gem with red nail polish. Allow to dry.
- Using the paint pen, draw a black semicircle to represent the ladybug’s head. Allow to dry.
- Using the paint pen, draw black dots on the ladybug’s back. Be sure to include bugs with 0 through to 10 dots. Allow to dry.
- Once dry, seal gems with mod podge or finishing spray for durability.
- Cut leaf shapes from green craft foam and label each with a numeral, 0-10.
Now you are ready to play.
Counting and Number Activity Ideas
Here are five ways to use the number ladybugs with children with various levels of counting ability and numeral recognition.
1. Counting: Place a small number of stones in front of your child and ask, “Can you find me a ladybug with two spots?”
2. Counting and ordering: Provide a complete set of ladybugs and ask your child to place them in order from zero/one to ten according to the number of spots.
3. Comparing groups: Place a set of ladybugs into a small bag. Without peeking, have your child choose two ladybugs. Ask them which one has more/ fewer spots.
4. Counting and numeral recognition: Ask your child to sort a set of ladybugs, placing each on the correct leaf by matching the number of spots to the numeral shown on the leaf.
5. Simple addition: Place ladybugs into a small bag. Without peeking, have your child choose two ladybugs. Calculate the total number of spots. Write the problem as an addition sentence.
What other counting and number games could you play with these number bugs?
More Bug Activities!
Christie Burnett is the teacher, author, and blogger behind the playful online space known as Childhood 101. Christie’s passion for play and creativity led her to start her award-winning blog shortly after the birth of her first daughter. Nowadays she can typically be found juggling the demands of family life with time tapping away at her keyboard, at least when she hasn’t just dropped it all to join her daughters in whatever their latest game or project might be! Connect with Christie on her blog or via Facebook.