Fine Motor Maths Game

A maths game with fine motor development too! My idea of heaven!  This looks like it took a while to set up but in reality it took 15 minutes and lasted all afternoon and will be used for weeks to come. J loved it!

To make this I used:

  • An empty egg box
  • Four long wooden skewers
  • Four polystyrene balls
  • Four lolly sticks
  • Felt tip pens
  • Rainbow coloured beads
  • Card

Fine Motor Maths Game

First I poked a wooden skewer into each of the polystyrene balls and then poked it into the egg box at slightly different angles.  I made sure the sharp end was nowhere accessible for safety – you could just cut this point off once the skewers are through the ball if you wanted to.

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Finally, I used the felt tip pens to draw a repeating pattern on each side of the lolly stick. Therefore, there were eight different patterns, some more difficult than others. I also cut up the card in to little squares and wrote numbers 1-20 on them.  I wrote the even numbers in blue and the odd numbers in red just for a potential learning opportunity should J notice the two different colours.  He didn’t during this first play but that doesn’t mean he wont.  I want it to come up naturally though, so I won’t mention it unless he does.

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I presented the game to J using the top half of the egg box to store the beads, lolly sticks and number cards.  The rest was up to J…

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J, as always, couldn’t wait to get started.  He began by simply threading the beads onto the skewers taking no notice of the number cards or patterned lolly sticks.  As J used his fine motor skills to thread the beads on, he counted the beads and talked about how many he thought he needed to add to get to the top!  Children’s minds are so amazing! I hadn’t thought of that as a possible learning opportunity. It just goes to show, let the children lead the play and they will learn!

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J was delighted with himself when he reached the top and declared, ‘Ta da! I’m finished!’  You can see the pleasure on his face!

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Another learning opportunity totally from J was captured in the photo below.  J put the number 1 by a stick and put one bead on.  He then put number 4 next to it and put four beads on.  He said, ‘look Mummy I did it wrong, I’ve got too many now. I have 5!’  I smiled and explained to J that he had just added two numbers together and he was AMAZING! I said, ‘if you put one bead with four beads, you get five beads altogether!’  J smiled and later said, ‘do you remember Mummy, 4 beads and 1 bead makes 5?’  The beginnings of addition and ALL through natural discovery!!

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More learning came again.  J chose four numbers and assigned one card to each stick.  He put three beads on three, twelve beads on twelve and so on.  This is fantastic and shows me that J is beginning to understand confidently that numbers have a specific value. Without doubt, J will need A LOT more play opportunities to completely consolidate this understanding.  Conservation of number (understanding what each number is worth and knowing it is worth that however it is represented) is crucial for ALL future mathematical understanding.

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Once J had done this quite easily, I challenged him by asking which number was the biggest, next biggest and so on.  J used the visual image in front of him to determine which number was the largest in value. In a school setting this would easily be used for models and images within a whole class setting. He then ordered the numbers on the table.

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J eventually noticed the lolly sticks and asked me to show him how to use them.  Once I had modelled one, J was away!  He then compared the stick to his pattern and giggled with glee when it was the same!

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As J had found it fairly easy to copy the patterns, I again challenged him to continue more difficult ones.  He did, purple, purple, yellow, purple, purple, yellow…

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… and then did blue, yellow, green, blue, yellow, green…  J played with this for over an hour and a half! As I put him to bed, he asked if we could play again in the morning! He really did get an awful lot out of this really simple game and I know they’ll be much more to come!  No matter what stage your little one is at, this Maths game will be fabulous for them.  It really is so open ended that they will learn at their level mathematically and get a fine motor workout for free! What more could we want from an egg box, skewers and polystyrene balls?

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What did J learn?

  • Number recognition and recall
  • Counting objects with one-to-one correspondence
  • Conservation of number
  • Patterns
  • Fine motor development
  • Ordering numbers
  • Comparing values (using visual representation)
  • Introduction to addition
  • Understanding how many more needed to reach the top of the stick

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