Count with Craft Sticks – Fine Motor Skills Meets Basic Math!

I believe that basic math can be taught for free and with very little preparation for the busy parent.

For my toddler daughter, I have had a lot of fun making my own math manipulatives, such as various counting activities with craft sticks (also known as popsicle sticks…or tongue depressors at the doctor’s office!) and tree branches!

With small objects, you can practice counting anytime and anywhere.  If you have craft sticks or branches, your child can also work on fine motor skills and develop concentration while learning how to count!

In this post, I’ll give specific examples of fun ways to teach numbers with craft sticks!

Counting & Math with Craft Sticks!

How to teach kids counting for free

For my toddler, we have used everything from hair ties, pom poms, clothespins, stickers, and food to learn one-to-one correspondence, subitizing, and simple math.  Practice with a variety of objects, especially with everyday items in your home!

Please don’t feel like you need to buy anything new; instead, you can teach counting for free with things around the house.  In addition to being cost and time-efficient, it makes counting relevant and enjoyable for your child and establishes a solid foundation for basic math.

I also hope this craft stick activity and other math activities on this website will show that you don’t need to drill with workbooks or zone children out with math apps and videos!

What you need for the craft stick counting activity:

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  1. Craft sticks OR tree branches, toilet paper tubes
  2. Colorful hair elastics (OR clothespins, stickers, etc).
  3. Colorful Sharpie markers

How to set up the craft stick counting activity:

  1. Label crafts sticks with number with different colored marker
  2. Match corresponding number & color of selected item to craft stick number & color

Teaching suggestions:

  • Model counting out loud for your child and ask her to count out loud:
    • 一,二,三,四,五,六,七,八...
    • yī, èr, sān, sì, wǔ, liù, qī, bā…
  • Explain to your child that it is important to practice counting Chinese out loud, carefully, and without rushing.
  • Create math worksheet with colors corresponding to number on craft stick.  For early learners, it is important to use different colors to represent the different numerical quantities of the equation.  Color coding helps with grouping and mentally organizing information.

If you try this craft stick counting activity, let us know in the comments below!

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