After a lovely play date with his ‘bestie’ this afternoon, J asked to play with his fish.  This was because we’d been on a mission to have a ‘free’ play date for a change! This included a trip to the park and a visit to see the animals at the local pet shop! J’s favourite thing to see today (other than his best friend) had to be the fish! Hence, he asked on the way home for a ‘fish game!’  Not one to disappoint, I got out a couple of bits and left J to play.

For this activity, I used:

  • a cat litter tray (used for many previous activities)
  • large child tweezers
  • measuring spoons
  • magnifying glass
  • Science goggles
  • Craft tray with foam numbers stuck in
  • toy fish
  • water

Fishy Number Fun

I filled the cat litter tray with water and put the toy fish inside. I put some foam numbers in the craft tray and told J the following problem.  Here was a lab and they needed a scientist to remove the fish from the dangerous substance.  To help him he had tweezers (so as not to damage his skin) and a specimen tray! I didn’t mention the numbers.  I wanted this to be an open-ended play activity. If he used the numbers, great…if not it really didn’t matter! Goggles on and off he went…

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As J had goggles on, to begin with he insisted on sticking his face in the water to remove the fish.  When I reminded him how ‘dangerous’ the liquid was, he replied… ‘I’m not JUST a scientist Mummy, I’m a super scientist and nothing hurts me!’  I just LOVE his imagination!

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J uses the tweezers to remove the fish and as he did so he put them in the numbered sections in the tray and said, ‘specimen 3,’ ‘specimen 5’ and so on identifying the numbers correctly.

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Obviously, the bonus of using the tweezers is to give J a hand work out, developing his fine motor skills and pincer grip as well as giving J props to feed his imaginative play.

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J also used the measuring spoons and switched between the different sizes according to the size of the fish he was trying to rescue.  This surprised me as I didn’t think he would make this connection! I’m not sure what the expression on his face is all about (he was muttering to himself but I didn’t catch what he said! Hahaha!

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He then used the tweezers to remove the fish from the measuring spoons! He’s nothing if not thorough!

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J had originally randomly placed the fish in the numbered sections calling each fish a different specimen number.  After I’d fed G and sat back at the table with him, he’d moved the fish to sections without a number.

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He then started to match the fish and sort them into the numbered sections using the value of the number to tell him how many fish he needed to match! For example, two seahorses, three orange fish and so on! Nothing like open ended play to stretch a child’s thinking! I was gob-smacked when he did this completely independently!  Once he’d done four yellow fish he decided the fish were sick because they needed to be in water.

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J said he had cleaned the water and it was now safe for the fish to swim in!

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What did J learn?

  • Number recognition and recall
  • Number value
  • Counting with one-to-one correspondence
  • Fish habitats (need water)
  • Fine motor development
  • New language and vocabulary
  • Matching and sorting
  • Thinking about size (comparing the size of fish to size of measuring spoon needed)

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