Today I want to share some of the counting toys we use with our toddler. Maths is all around us and there are plenty of opportunities to count in everyday living. But we still use a few counting toys that allow the toddler to explore quantities independently or in a fun way.
Pictured above is the Tumble Down Counting Pegs. These have been a favourite. They are fun and the dropping of the pegs encourages the child to do it (counting) all over again. The numerals are nice and large and the child can also trace the number with their finger and feel how it is formed, much like a sandpaper number.
Colour Stacking Toy. I like this one as the young toddler is interested in stacking and this is graduated. The colour sorting works well and the child begins to count to five! This stacking toy is really simple, at this age the child doesn't need anything more complex.
Giant Wooden Dice. This is in no way Montessori inspired but it is a lot of fun and can be used in a hands on way for the young child learning to count. It is useful for made up games (jump/skip/clap as many numbers on the dice) or hop scotch. This one is made from Mahogany and it will be used for many years to come. It's nice and smooth and feels good to touch.
Here are a few more counting toys that I like but I haven't used personally.
1/ Colour Wooden Ring Stacker - this one is so simple and it works for toddlers who are also developing their stacking and fine motor skills.
2/ Number Counting Board Five Board - also available in a ten board. For a toddler I like the five board but feel the ten board would last longer and would be better suited to a preschooler. These are designed to be in line with the Montessori Bead Bars - using the same colours.
3/ Peg Number Boards - there are quite a few toys and materials like this. I like the pegging materials and I know my toddler loves to insert the pegs, this is very enticing. The alignment of the pegs isn't perfect from a Montessori perspective, but this is the pegging number board that I like the best. For toddlers I prefer each number to be separate rather than have all the numbers on one board.
4/ Wooden Number Counting Boards. I also like this one as the numbers are separate and they can still be stored and displayed as a set.
Many of these toys and materials are good for number recognition too. Some of the numerals can be traced by child with their fingers and they are able to make an association between the feel of the number, the name of the number and the quantity. Please note that many of these materials have small parts and require supervision.
Do children need counting toys? The more Otto (2 years) has used the Tumble Down Counting Pegs the more I've noticed him counting (not always correctly) during independent play but also when out in nature, and when out in the community. The pegs have increased his knowledge and interest in counting.
Shopping or unpacking is a great time to count too. This morning we were unpacking potatoes and I asked Otto to pass me two potatoes, then three. He was passing the potatoes to me out of the box but was counting as he was doing so! Asking the child to give you a number of items is great as it's cementing and reinforcing the knowledge. This is a perfect real life application. Counting oranges at the market, sticks or stones in the mud kitchen or blocks as we stack them are great ideas for counting. The kitchen when cooking or when outside gardening - there are so many counting opportunities with a toddler.
Yesterday I was watching Jessica's IG stories talking about subsitizing, how toddlers (closer to three) can tell you then number of something by looking, not by counting. Like when you hold out all of the fingers on one hand, the child knows there are five fingers. Or when you see five on a dice you automatically know it is five, you don't have to count. Subsitizing is a super important skill for children to learn but we also want to for the toddler to learn to count. For this reason if you have toddler or preschooler, it's a really good idea to provide lots of diverse and as many real life applications of counting as you can.
Have you found any of these toys useful or are they on your wish-list? Let me know if you have other suggestions.
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