Veronika and I have been exploring early math concepts lately, and here was another fun way to do so using simple materials that she loves: stickers, plastic cups, and pompoms!
I marked three clear plastic cups with dot stickers, each cup with a different color. The first cup had 1 yellow sticker, the second had 2 red stickers, and the third had 3 blue ones.
I then showed Veronika the one dot on the first cup, and told her there was one sticker. “Can you add one pompom?” I asked her. I chose to color-coordinate the pompoms to the dot stickers for clarity, but you don’t have to.
She dropped in one pompom!
Now I held up the second cup and we counted the stickers. One sticker, two stickers. “Can you add two pompoms?” Plink plink into the cup!
We repeated for the third cup with three pompoms. Obviously I was directing the game very clearly, which helped her get each answer “right”; don’t expect a toddler to do this game solo. But the activity reinforces the notion of counting up, and that numerals are attached to a tangible amount.
It would be been coldhearted not to let her play with the extra materials after that! There were more stickers she could happily dot onto extra cups, and lots more pompoms to play with and keep herself busy for a while.
While we were at it, we could talk about a few opposite concepts, like over the cup and under the cup.
So this activity is definitely a winner.