I have three children all at very different stages of development. They are five, nearly three and nineteen months and believe me, time is in short supply. Therefore, finding an activity that they can all use, enjoy and learn from is an absolute BONUS! This game/activity is well worth the ten minutes it takes to prepare and super adaptable.
To make the game, you will need:
8 paper plates
little plastic bags (not essential)
Step 1: Simply cut three of the plates in half.
Step 2: Staple the half on top of a whole paper plate and staple around the edges to produce a pocket.
You will be left with five pockets that can actually fit quite a bit inside. You could hang them on a piece of string to hang up on a fireplace, in a bedroom or playroom for example. I opted for sticking them to the side of the fridge with blue tack.
So the next bit isn’t essential but I wanted to allow this game to be completely versatile, adaptable and suitable for all my children and their stage of learning. Therefore, rather than drawing/writing directly onto the paper plate, I stapled on a little, sealable bag. This would act as a holder for the label on the front of my ‘paper plate pockets.’
Right, so we have five ‘paper plate pockets’ ready to be put up in the house. I drew on little cards to put inside the bags but if you aren’t using the bags to make the game adaptable you can just draw directly onto the plate. Miss G will be 3 at the end of February and we have started thinking about number recognition of numbers 1-5. I therefore wrote the numbers, 1-5 and placed them inside the little bags on the front of the plates. I also gathered a collection of envelopes and wrote the numbers 1-5 on them. I popped the envelopes inside a bag next to the pockets. I left them for G to discover in her own time and start posting the appropriate envelope into the matching paper plate pocket. SHE LOVED IT! A variation to this game for Miss G was ‘shape.’ I drew a circle, square, rectangle and triangle on a card and also slotted them into the bag- thus transforming the game focus from number to shape. Rather than envelopes, G had actual wooden shapes to put in the corresponding pocket. On the fifth pocket, I put Miss G’s name as recognising her name in print is something else we are working on.
G loved taking the envelopes out of her special bag and she chatted with me as she did so, thus allowing for lots of talk about the number names.
She had to stretch and move around to put the envelopes in the corresponding pockets and she enjoyed the fact that she is, ‘such a big girl’ who can reach the top pockets!
The excitement and sense of achievement Miss G got from this game was so lovely. She loves ‘finding’ little activities that I have left for her to discover and is really interested in learning her numbers so this makes it all the more enjoyable. I really want to emphasise that I NEVER force my children to do these activities. Child led learning is so important and far more worthwhile. The second they lose interest and no longer want to play, we leave it and inevitably they will come back to it when they choose. G is definitely at the VERY beginning of her journey into number recognition so I certainly do not want to put her off by forcing it onto her.
It goes without saying that anything Miss G can do, Little Miss M wants to do too! She is nearly 19 months and a bright little spark. She is really interested in numbers already and is beginning to say her number names in order. Number recognition is way off for her though so she simply enjoyed taking the envelopes out of the bag and putting them in the pockets. The sweet thing though was listening to her mimic what she had seen her sister doing and saying random numbers as she did so! Bless her!
Before I move onto school age children, I will just note a few ways that this can be adapted. Rather than the number ‘3’ for example, I could put a visual representation of the VALUE of 3 on the envelope (see below). This would help the child to rehearse counting objects, retaining the final amount and for children beyond this, to help them look at small amounts and know there are 3 without counting.
Alternatively, it could be used for colours. Putting a different colour on the front of each pocket and providing a basket of small toys in a range of colours for the children to sort.
When J arrived home, he wanted to play with this activity so I slipped a five different numbers into the plastic bag on the front of the pocket and wrote out a few questions for him to pop in the corresponding pocket. This was great as it was a new way to think about different ways to make the same number; an important skill. For example, one plate had the number 25.
On different strips of paper, the following things were written…
J had to think about what the answer to each of these questions was and put them into the correct pocket. To take this further, I could challenge him to make his own questions with an answer of 25. In fact, I may just do that tomorrow! Again, this could be adapted for school age children whatever their stage:
recognition of any number to 20, 50, 100
learning sight key words
learning multiplication number facts
number bonds to 10
shapes; hexagon, pentagon, octagon etc.
The list could go on. A very adaptable game for all ages and the children love it too. Easily packed away and stored or just left on the side of the fridge like ours. Hope you have fun with this simple idea too!