This project has been in the works for a few weeks, and I finally have it ready to show you. Anyone with preschoolers and kindergarteners in the house knows they love to move around and this is a great way to use that to your advantage to help them learn their numbers and colors.
I saw this post on ABC & 123: A Learning Cooperative a while ago that gave a lot of ideas for using play to help kids learn about numbers. The picture of the girl playing hopscotch got me thinking because Firecracker really likes hopscotch lately. I didn't want to use paper cards, though, because they'd get ruined fairly quickly and slipping on paper is Sweet Peas #1 favorite way to slip and fall, so I decided to make mine out of fabric.
For teaching math concepts later, 0 is an important number to include and going all the way up to 20 gets the kids past the hardest numbers to master naming. (12 in currently the one Firecracker has the hardest time identifying when the numbers are mixed up. She calls it two-teen or twenty as often as twelve, even though she has no problems counting straight up the line.)
About the same time that I got the inspiration for the project, I happened across an really great children's book at the library. It's called One by Kathryn Otoshi. It covers colors, numbers, and how to stop a bully in a simple and striking way. I've found most books about bullying to be kind of preachy and "downers," but this one is uplifting and right-on. Blue starts out being bullied by red and because no one stops him, he starts to pic on all the colors. Then the number 1 comes along and shows them that they need to stand up to the bully. This gives the other colors confidence and one by one, they change from color blobs into numbers because "everyone counts." Then not only does red stop being a bully, but they include him and show him that he "counts too" and he becomes 7.
So in honor of the book, I made the colors of my numbers match the numbers in the book. The numbers in the book only go up to 7, though, so I added a few more colors for 0, 8-9, and then we repeated the colors.
With Little Brother and Sweet Pea, I lined them up in a row up to 10 and had Little Brother count the numbers as he stepped on them.
We also mixed them up, and then I called out a color for them to find.
Sweet Pea isn't quite up to identifying most of the colors, but she did show partiality to pink (or maybe it was the 8s she liked.) She moved the 18 so it was next to the 8, and she could stand on both at the same time.
We played with these for family night too and had hopscotch races.
Then we put them in a circle. First they just ran around and counted, but then we had Firecracker count by twos by jumping over every other one. (This is the first time she's been successful at counting by twos.)
We also played by calling out a number and she had to go find it. Another good way to play is to call out a color for her to find, and then once she is standing there, she has to tell me the number she's on.
Some other things you can do is have your child trace the letters for some pre-writing practice.
Or put that number of buttons (or other objects) on the number.
Or just have them match colors.
Another idea I've had, but haven't gotten a chance to try is to have Firecracker and Little Brother each choose a number to stand on, and then have Firecracker add them (or subtract them once she has more practice.)
These are just the games I've thought of so far. I'd love to hear from you if you have another idea for how to use these.
This game was a big hit with all three kids. They've asked to play it multiple times since we first did it. A set of these numbers would make a great Christmas gift for someone with pre-schooler or kindergarteners in the house.
If you want to make your own, I used 9 inch squares of denim. Then I zigzagged along the edge to keep them from unravelling (a serger would work even better). I traced the numbers from a foam puzzel set we have, but you could trace them off the computer. Just make sure you trace them BACKWARDS onto some Heat'n Bond. I used Heat'n Bond "lite" because I like to sew around the edges, but you can use the heavy duty Heat'n Bond that doesn't require sewing. Then you just applique them on. (If you've never appliqued before, you can follow the directions for basic applique that I posted here.) I'm sure you could also use a glue gun and just glue them down as well. You could make these even easier with just felt, althougth the denim is more durable than felt would be.