Learning opportunities are all around us, and you can teach your child how to count without spending any money! I love coming up with free and fun ways to use recycled paper rolls.
To teach my daughter number and color patterns, I cut up cardboard toilet paper rolls and used a towel holder as a dowel.
This was one of the very first activities that I set up for my daughter when she was 2! However, the age doesn’t matter since children are learning different skills at individual paces. You can do this activity with older toddlers (ages 3-5) who are learning how to count.
Since my daughter had already learned her 123s in English and Korean, we focused on learning Chinese numbers and color patterns for this lesson.
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Benefits of recycled cardboard paper roll activities
In an effort to reduce waste, I’m trying make a habit of using recycled materials.
Crafting with kids can quickly eat up a lot of paper; therefore, cardboard toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls are perfect for kids’ activities!
Also, we parents are often too busy to shop for new things, so it’s a win-win when your activity supplies involve items you probably have at home!
What you need for the recycled paper rolls activity:
- Recycled paper rolls
- Black permanent marker (eg, Sharpie)
- Paper towel holder
- Optional: paint (acrylic paint gives a vibrant color)
How to prepare the recycled paper rolls activity:
- Cut paper rolls
- Label with numbers
- Optional: Paint a few rolls of each color. I recommend skipping this step for children who are first learning numbers so that they are not distracted by the color. Alternatively, you can focus on color patterns and not label with numbers. Mixing colors with numbers will be easier when the foundation has already been established.
- Arrange paper rolls on paper towel holder (eg, dowel) in different patterns!
In the below photo, my daughter is arranging the rolls in numerical rainbow order! Rainbow order is her favorite pattern!
Here’s another pattern that my daughter made.
- Model counting out loud for your child and ask him or her to count out loud:
一，二，三，四，五，六，七，八, 九, 十…yī, èr, sān, sì, wǔ, liù, qī, bā, jiǔ, shí…
- Explain to your child that counting out loud helps make a habit of counting carefully without rushing.
Have you tried counting and making patterns with paper rolls?
If you try this activity, please let us know in the comments below! What age(s) are your kid(s) and how did it go? We’d love to hear about your learning experience!
More math activities for preschoolers
- How to Count in Chinese and English the Montessori Way
- 10+ Math Resources for Children Learning Chinese