Counting & Number Recognition with Paper Tubes. Playful Maths

Feb 8, 2013

Welcome back to the "Playful Maths" weekly series brought to you by

Together, let's make MATHS FUN!


Last week we brought you 2 more great maths activities using egg cartons.

This week and next we'll be using Paper Tubes. 

Today's activity from us focuses on "Counting and Number Recognition" 

This activity also includes aspects of one-to-one correspondence and a little bit of problem solving, learning shapes, colours and brainstorming.

Ages: 2+
(M has just turned 4. See the bottom for handy tips to Extend or Simplify to meet your child's needs)

Materials: Paint, Paper Tube, Paper, Marker

Before presenting the activity I cut the pieces of paper in half and wrote a number at the top of each page.
I did the numbers 1-20
(choose your numbers according to what the child needs to work on)

The presented activity. 
(I put the paint on a sponge to avoid having too much paint to print with)

Have your child read the number and then print the corresponding number of circles using the paper tube.

I noticed a form of 1:1 correspondence as she had to count aloud each time she stamped to get the correct amount.

As the numbers got higher, I found that sometimes she lost count and was forced to re-count and then count-on to figure out the remaining amount of stamps needed.

Allow your pages to dry.

At this point it's up to you to decide what you want to do with the pages.

Read on to see what we did with them the following day.

First I folded a piece of thick paper around the pages and stapled together to make a book.

She loved that her pictures were now a book and eagerly read the pages, counting the circles as she went.

We then talk about circles and about how we could turn the circles into objects in the book. 
We brainstormed a list of ideas.

I gave her the book and some coloured pencils. She also wanted our list of ideas for inspiration.

Working one page at a time, we talked about the number and what she could turn the circles into.

She then got to work decorating and adding details to the circles.

1 was her of course. There's only 1 Maddie! haha

(The number 4 page turned into our 4 family members, she insisted on 19 ladybird so that one took a while. Each page was something different and it's so much more meaningful to her as a counting book because she made it herself. She has ownership over the work and understands what it means and represents. It doesn't matter that it doesn't look like a work of art)

Handy Tips:

- Simplify this activity by starting with numbers 1-3. Include higher numbers up to 10 as they are able.

- You can Extend this activity in many ways:
  • Have the child write the numbers on the pages themselves.
  • Focus on the teen numbers and have children stamp 10 times in one colour. Then have the child work out how many more to make the teen number eg 13 is 10 and 3; 19 is 10 and 9 and then stamp the extra amount in a different colour
  • What different patterns and designs can they come up with using the paper tube to still display the corresponding number?
  • If you make a book, have the children practice their number writing on the opposite page and also make and design a front cover

- Mix it up by using the pictures to make a wall mural or playroom/classroom display, hanging display etc. Mount onto coloured card or press the edges of the paper tubes in to make different shapes for printing.

- For grouping, use a different coloured paint for each small group and a fresh tube for each colour. This will help them with subitising as well. 

- To learn new skills and to consolidate their understanding, children need to experience opportunities to practice these same skills over and over again. 

- Playful Maths. Below are the Egg Carton Activities from both Learn with Play at home and The Imagination Tree
(click on the pictures to go to the posts)


Don't forget to join us next week for the latest Playful Maths activity.

Are there any Everyday Materials that you'd like to see us use? 
Mention it in the comments and we'll see what we can come up with!

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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  1. Great fun and learning girls enjoy making circles but i never thought of turning it into a math activity....i think we will start with 1-3 as you suggested. Love that you turned it into a special x

  2. This is a great activity. I love how you have incorporated so many learning skills into the process. When I am putting together projects for my kids, I also try to incorporate as much learning as possible. That way we aren't trying to do 10 different projects to learn the skills we are focusing on. And my kids don't turn down anything involving paint!

  3. Best and easiest way to teach numbers to kids. Kids always love to colour a lot.

  4. I love how you extended it into a writing project! Very meaningful!

  5. This is awesome! and the sponge idea was brilliant!

  6. I was looking forward to seeing what you would come up with paper tubes! I linked that to my Paper Tubes Up-cycled post (along with your marble run which I mentioned earlier).
    This idea is simple and fun. I love how you include the other options with the simplify and extend!

  7. This is a great project! I really enjoy the fact that it can be extended.

  8. I love your extension of the activity Debs. I can see it working really well in the classroom :) I am popping this one into my relief folder for next time I am in an early years classroom with no daily work pad!

  9. Now I have two great ideas for this week lol, one from you and one from Amie :) You guys are making our little homeschooling journey so easy :) I know this activity is right up Jack's alley. And the little book is a great way to reinforce the learning. I really really like this idea :)

  10. This is a great idea. love it!
    It looks like something really fun and easy, we could do this :)
    thanks for sharing

  11. Such a fun way to incorporate painting with maths! Your students must be missing you and all your great ideas :-)

  12. Your little girls is going to be a start in the math department when she heads off to school. So much fun! I'll remember this if I become a teacher. Such a wealth of info on here Deb! Oh, and I never even thought of using toilet rolls to paint with. Brilliant!

  13. I love the discussion you had about circles and what you can do with them

  14. What a great project for the kids. I love how it crosses over many different areas of learning as well as being creative and fun.

  15. So much learning and so much fun with a simple task love it


Thanks for taking the time to comment! I love reading them all.