Counting with Felt Hands – A Hands-On Math Activity!

My 4-year-old daughter and I made Counting Felt Hands to learn how to do simple math problems with this fun, hands-on activity!

When children first learn to count, they often use their fingers.

With their hands, kids can learn how to recognize patterns, identify groups of 5 and 10, and skip count by 5 and 10.

In addition, basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication) can be computed with the help of their own body!

Felt hands skip counting

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Counting with felt hands: what you need for the educational activity

  1. Felt, construction paper, card stock, or cardboard
    1. We used stiff felt for durability, but just be aware that your wrist may get sore as I experienced from cutting.  You may want to consider soft felt instead!
    2. We used colorful felt so that each pair of hands were a certain color and therefore associated with groups of 10s.  However, you could make each felt hand the same color if you prefer
  2. Scissors
  3. Black marker
  4. A pair of cute child hands 🙂
  5. +/- Dot stickers
Colorful felt! Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Pink

Counting with felt hands: how to set up the activity

  1. Trace each pair of hands 10 times (10 x 10 = 100 fingers!)
  2. Cut hand shapes
  3. Optional: Label finger numbers and/or label 5, 10, 15, 20, etc.
  4. Learning activities:
    1. Mix up the hands & sort by number order
    2. Mix up the hands. Write 5, 10, 15, 20 etc on stickers or paper and match it in sequential order on the hands
    3. Practice adding and subtracting by 5s and 10s
    4. Learn basic multiplication by discussing sets of hands

Counting practice with felt hands: candid photos

Here are my daughter’s little hands from when she was 3!  Although this idea for teaching counting was conceived over a year ago, it took time for her to show interest in it!

Getting ready to trace both hands on colorful felt! Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Pink

She tried to help me cut a few hands, but quickly realized that it was too difficult.

Getting ready to cut hand shapes on colorful felt! Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Pink

Over the next 2 days, I gradually cut the rest of the hands.

Counting with felt hands: delayed interest in the learning activity!

Despite all of the hard work in prepping the activity, my daughter showed no interest in the felt hands!

At first, I felt bummed that she did not care for it.  However, due to my past experiences with working with children, I understood that it just might not be the right time.

Gradually, I tried to reintroduce it every few months to no avail.

However, last week, my daughter was rummaging through our Chinese activity storage bin, and said she wanted to use the Counting Felt Hands!

At last, she placed them on a small tray, as that is what we usually do when update our Montessori shelves with new activities!

Felt hands organized neatly in Montessori-inspired tray

Then she sorted, aligned, and rearranged each of the hands independently!

Sorting through felt hands to find the correct number in the sequence

I think her numeracy skills have improved significantly with our hands-on math activities, such as these felt hands, Number Pegging activities, and our printable Hundred Chart!

Counting Felt Hands - A Fun & Easy Way for Kids to Learn Math

We also turned the hands over to the blank side.  Then she matched dot stickers (available here) to the number of fingers shown.

Counting Felt Hands - A Fun & Easy Way for Kids to Learn Math - Sticker Matching Numbers

Lastly, my daughter asked me write addition equations on the easel (available here), and she felt that the problems were too easy!  Whoohoo!

Basic Math (addition) on Melissa and Doug Easel

If your child has fun learning how to count with Counting Felt Hands, please let us know in the comments below!

More hands-on learning activities for children

Happy learning, friends!

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