What is on our Montessori-inspired shelves: counting and number recognition activities

Hello, thanks for stopping by! I am here today to share with you the activities that I set up for my 3-years old son to support his interest in counting. 

Before I begin, I want to say a few things:
  • teaching children number recognition and counting makes sense only once they have shown an interest in them, there is no need to force toddlers to master those skills,
  • I prepared most of these activities a while ago when I was testing out a laminating machine, which was playing up and I finally needed to return it. That's why there is so much plastic in here. 

I hope you enjoy reading and try some of these activities out 🙂

On the first shelf, I have 2 activities. The first one is ten 2-piece puzzles from North Parade Publishing Ltd. (I found them in TKMaxx). The child simply counts the items on one half of a puzzle and matches it to the corresponding number on the other half. What is important, only the correct pieces will fit together, so this is a fully self-correcting activity. This means that the child will be able to complete and correct it without the help of a parent. 
These particular puzzles aren't available anywhere at the moment, but you can find plenty of alternatives these days. I always see similar sets in TKMaxx, and in every other charity shop I go to. 

These are Montessori-inspired sandpaper numbers, that I made a while ago using some scrap paper, sandpaper, glue and cardboard. I invite my son to repeat the names of the numbers as well as to trace each number with his finger two to three times. This is a fantastic learning material, so I would advise everyone to either buy the original Montessori sandpaper numbers or to DIY them. 

On the second shelf, I have a simple activity that helps with both counting and number recognition. I have made these counting cards using stamps, but if you don't have stamps, you can draw little pictures on a paper or print the ready cards out (there are plenty of them available for free online). 
In this activity, the child counts the pictures on the card and matches the correct number to it (I used some magnetic numbers, but you can use anything you want/ have).
As you can see, these aren't the prettiest cards in the world, but I like to make the most out of everything I own (hence the stamps). 

On the third shelf, we have a Montessori Hundred Board, which is a wooden board divided into 100 squares, and it comes with 100 number tiles and a control chart. 
It is a perfect material for teaching children number recognition and counting and helps them understand number order. Obviously, there is so much more you can do with it, for example, skip counting.
At the moment Kian practices placing numbers 1-10 in order. 
I bought this board off of eBay, so it is a slightly smaller version to the original Montessori boards, but it works perfectly fine for us, at home. 

On the fourth shelf, I have a simple number recognition matching activity, made using old bottle caps and a bottom piece of an upcycled sweets box. Of course, you don't need the exact piece of plastic for this activity, instead, you can use a plate, a paper plate, or even a piece of paper that you will write numbers on. The idea of this activity is for the child to match the numbers on the bottle caps to the numbers on the 'board'. 
To make it more challenging, you can ask the child to transfer the caps using tongs or handy scoopers, but I decided to stick to the simple matching activity here. 

Fun fact- the top part of this sweets box was used to make my waterfall diorama last year. You can find the step-by-step tutorial to it here

I found these puzzles in a charity shop a while ago, and they came without a box or even a stamp with a brand name on it, so, unfortunately, I don't know where they are from. Google isn't helping either here. I love them, however, because they are sort of two in one puzzle. Kian really enjoys the finger-counting feature here, so he normally counts the animals, then matches the corresponding number to the result he got, places the puzzle in the sloth, and then shows the number with his fingers. 

All in all, a well invested £1.99.

Another super simple activity here, it helps with counting, number recognition and fine motor skills. The child reads the number on the card and transfers on it a correct amount of blocks using tongs provided. 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and please let me know what type of activities would you like me to prepare next.
Thank you for your time!

Gosia x


Hello! I am here today to share with you some ideas on how you can make the most out of the toys your child already owns. It will save you money, time and stress because we all know that clutter is overwhelming. 

To start, I would suggest observing your child for a few days, to check what they actually play with and what type of toys they are mostly drawn to. Also, which toys they never, ever use.
If you have a lot going on in your life, and loads of things to remember about, I would suggest making a list of often used and never used toys, it will make the next steps much easier for you. 

Once the list is ready, you can re-organize your child's play space. Decluttering is fantastic! Most of the children don't play with their toys because they simply have too many of them. Of course, this step is optional.
Next, you can divide the toys that you're keeping into two groups, and hide one of them away. Then you swap the toys every week/ two weeks, or how often you wish. This method is great because it is fully customizable to your child's needs, and your schedule.
Rotating toys has many benefits, one of them is that your child never gets bored with their toys, and they feel that they are getting new toys frequently, which makes them want less brand new toys. This will also allow you to have less clutter in the toy storage system, which means less mess, and less cleaning. Less cluttered play space (no matter how big or small it is) encourages the independence in the child, because they can not only easily access all of the toys, but also clean them up after play


Lego Duplo/ building blocks
Building blocks are one of the most important types of toys to have in one's collection. They teach the child about geometry, gravity, they encourage creative thinking and problem-solving. Honestly, their benefits are endless. But there is so much more your child can do with them than just building. 
With their help, you can teach your child colours, counting, matching, sorting, patterns and many, many more. 

Animal figurines
Animal figurines are many children's favourite toys. They are, however, pretty expensive, so it is worth to make the most out of them.
I came up with 48 fun and educational activities with animal figurines, and you can find the first part of my guide here, and the second one here. These activities are suitable for babies, toddlers and younger children. 

The ball
The ball is the queen of open-ended toys. It is affordable, and if we were to count the cost per use of toys, the ball would probably win. It not only beautifully supports the development of your child's gross motor skills but also, thanks to its simplicity, can be easily incorporated in other types of activities. 
A small ball can become a pretend food or an animal, and if you have a few of them at home, you can build an interactive solar system for your child or introduce them to the concept of ordering by size or weight. You can use them for making patterns, colour matching and colour sorting, or shape sorting.

Toy vehicles can be used in many ways, too! The child can sort them by colour, by type, by brand. Put them all in lines, do patterns, practice counting, addition, subtraction. Learn hundreds of new words when learning the parts of the vehicle. Practice ordering by size (or tell which one is bigger, which one is smaller etc.). Learn the brands. Endless possibilities here. 

A few tips on purchasing toys:
  • follow your child. Each child has his interests, so it is fantastic if we follow them when buying toys. Then we are almost 100% sure that our child will play with what we bought. It saves frustration (for parents and kids), money (obviously), and space (because the storage always comes with capacity limits 😉),
  • if you want to save some money on toys, you can invest in second-hand items. You can find them online (eBay, Gumtree, Facebook market place etc.), in charity shops/ thrift stores and car boot sales,
  • buy less, but better quality. Minimalism in toys has more benefits for the child's development than an abundance of toys. If you choose wooden toys over plastic, they will last much, much longer. I know that wooden toys tend to be pricier, but I found almost all the pieces my son owns second-hand, and I paid less than I would for plastic toys,
  • invest in open-ended toys and loose part materials. Thanks to the simple design, they can be used in infinite ways, so they will never be too boring for your child. You buy (find in the garden/upcycle) once, and they last for a few years. If you have never heard of the idea of the loose parts play before and you would like to learn more, you can check out my article on the topic here

I hope you found some inspiration here, and please let me know what do you do to make the most out of toys your child owns. 

Thank you for your time,
Gosia x

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