This 1-10 counting activity with built in error control gives kids a way to practice counting, an important and necessary pre-math skill.
It also helps preschoolers and kindergarteners with subitizing because they are visualizing quantities to ten. Subitizing is the ability to visualize quantities without counting.
Your child does not need to turn on a screen and watch Sesame Street to learn how to count! The hands-on counting activity is a super easy math activity to do at home with little to no prep time. It also has the benefit of working fine motor skills!
It's based on a Montessori math activity, but you don't have to be an adherent of all aspects of the Montessori educational method to appreciate how simple and effective this learning activity is!
- 10 individual cards, each with a number 1-10. It's easy to make your own out of index cards, as we did. However, this site has a number of free Montessori printables, if you'd rather print out the number cards.
- 55 beans, or other counter, such as pennies or buttons. No matter what you use, it's important to have exactly 55 counters. Place counters in a small bowl.
The Montessori method prescribes a specific way of demonstrating this activity to your child. At home, we don't follow these methods so feel free to do the same.
What we did:
Hand your child the number cards so they can arrange them in order, offering corrections, if need be.
Next, give your child the bowl of beans, or other counters. Explain that there are exactly the number of beans required to place the correct quantity of beans next to each corresponding number.
Because there are exactly 55 beans, if your child reaches 10 and either has beans left over or has run out before completing the task, he will know he has made an error. This is known as "error control."
If your child has made an error, ask him to start the task again.
When your child has completed the counting activity task, have them go back to each number and recount all the quantities to double-check his work.
Count out loud while placing the beans. This encourages the learner to slow down and take a moment to notice the visual representation of quantity.
You can offer more than 55 beans, but this eliminates error control.
Place the numbers in random order. The child can then rearrange them before counting. Alternatively, have them count out beans while the numbers remain in random order.
If you want to expand on fine motor work, try the counting activity using counters of different sizes, shapes and materials. You could count with pompoms, blocks, or give your child a pair of kid-friendly chopsticks with which to pick up the counters.
MORE COUNTING ACTIVITIES:
First published 2008; updated 2023.