Number Factory

There are so many aspects to mathematics. Counting and numbers are just the beginning of the, often daunting, mathematical journey.  Often, by the age of two, our children are able to say numbers in order.  The number they will recite up to depends on your child as they are all different.  Reciting the number names in order does not mean they are counting.  Counting involves reciting these numbers and assigning each number to an object, finally giving a total number of whatever it is being counted.  Complicated stuff for our little cherubs.  Not only do they have all of this to master but they then have to recognise the symbols for each number e.g. 2 means two, 3 means three and so on. So many people have a fear of maths and if, at this crucial early phase, we make maths stressful or boring, we could be in danger of putting them off before the really tricky stuff! What I’m trying to say is that, understanding number, the value of number and recognising the symbols is very difficult stuff so we have to be careful.  It should be fun, playful and completely easy-going! J loves numbers and as we play so many number games, he really is showing a great understanding. There is still lots of practise and rehearsal needed but through play, J will start school with a very good foundation and understanding.

Again, this game can be adapted to suit the stage your child is at.  It could even be used to sort colours or shapes too.

For this activity, I used:

  • cardboard pots
  • sticky labels
  • marker pen
  • blue tack
  • pom poms

Number Factory Play4

Onto the sticky labels, I wrote the numbers from 1-20 and stuck one sticker inside each pot!

Number Factory Play 2

Finally, I used the blue tack to attach the pots onto the side of the kitchen units. Annoyingly, I was one short of the cardboard pots so had to use a plastic pot for number 20. Not very pretty but this is real life!! Smile  I left the pom poms under the number factory and when J saw the activity, other than saying it was a ‘number factory,’ I left the interpretation of what to do completely up to him.  As I’ve said before, open-ended play is so crucial to develop creative, independent learners.

Number Factory Play

When J came back from nursery today, he went straight to the factory and starting pointing and reciting the number names to 20 as if checking they were all there and in the right order.  He had to start again a couple of times as he said the numbers quicker than his finger moved and he realised the number he was pointing to was not the number he said.  This exemplified though that he is able to recognise his numbers with increasing confidence.  He still gets muddled with his teen numbers but the beauty of learning through play is that J doesn’t feel any pressure and it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t know or makes a mistake.

Number Factory Play5

J decided that each of the pots was a ‘factory button’ but they were all missing their batteries.  He told me that number five needed ‘five batteries’ and so on.  As he explained to me, he held up his hand and counted to five. Giving J the opportunity to explain ‘the rules,’ as he called them, was a great speech and language exercise as he rehearsed his ability to describe and explain.

Number Factory Play6

With the first few pots, J easily grabbed the correct number of pompoms and put them in the pots.  Once he got to five, he carefully counted out the pompoms and laid them on the floor to check them before he placed them into the pots.

Number Factory Play7

Another lovely aspect to this activity, was seeing the visual effect of more and more pompoms as the numbers got bigger.  He said, ‘look Mummy, there are more and more and more.’

Number Factory Play8

J got so excited through this game and was really proud of his achievement.  He explained why he is ‘so clever!’  Apparently it’s because of his magic powers! You can see him demonstrating these powers below! hahaha!

Number Factory Play10

As J got further along, he complained to his ‘boss’ (yes, that would be me!) about the lack of batteries.  So, I nipped to my pompom stash and refilled the basket.  In all honesty, I hadn’t envisaged he would get so far! Naughty Mummy!

Number Factory Play11

I’ve got to be honest, the pride I felt watching J today was unbelievable.  He enjoyed this game so much and although he didn’t make it to 20, he surpassed my expectations and proved to me ( as if I needed it proving) that learning through play truly is the most invaluable, powerful and incredible way to learn!! Proud Mummy moment!

Number Factory Play12

As J found it more and more tricky, (he refused to let me help) he took the buttons off the wall and delivered them to his customers!  I envisage so many uses for this game and definitely would use it in an early years setting as an independent play activity. Lovely for home, school and nursery.  Hope you have fun with your Number Factory!

Number Factory Play13


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