Kindergarten students develop counting skills through repetition and practice. To master counting to ten, kindergarteners often count their fingers and toes. But here’s an activity that will give your kindergartener a little more wiggle room. Have him apply his natural curiosity about the outdoors to counting practice and create a counting book!
Index cards, labeled with a numeral at the top, 1–10
What You Do:
Work with your child to label the bottom of each of the pages of white paper with a numeral and a blank space. Begin with: 1 _________. On the next page, write, 2 ___________. Ask your child what comes next, and proceed in the same manner until ten pages are labeled.
Create a title page for the book: “My Backyard Counting Book.” Have your child decorate the title page as he likes.
Staple the pages along the left hand margin with the title page on the top, and the numbered pages in order from 1 to 10.
Now it’s time to explore the backyard and start collecting! On a sunny day, assist your child in looking for plants and other natural items that will easily press flat. (Note: Flowers with thick or moist centers, such as daisies, don’t work well for pressing, as they will mold.)
Take the index cards with you on your scavenger hunt, and look for pressable items that represent each number. For example, a clover has three leaves, so it can be used to represent the number three. Or, pick four clovers to represent the number four, and so forth. Encourage your child to look closely at these natural items. A single leaf may have one stem, two colors, three chew holes, or ten veins! The possibilities are endless!
Press each item in a thick heavy book, and place the matching index card on the same page as a bookmark. Be sure that the number on the card is visible when the book is closed.
Allow several days for the items to press flat. Items are ready when they can be removed from the book and still remain flat. (Tip: For best results, stack several heavy books on top of each other to add extra weight.)
Remove the items from the book. Begin by opening to the page you marked with index card number one. Glue items in the construction paper book, beginning with page 1. After you glue the items to the page, use a marker to fill in the blanks at the bottom: “1 butterfly wing.”
Read the completed book with your child, and as the book becomes more familiar to him, have him read it to you!
Liana Mahoney is a National Board Certified elementary teacher, currently teaching a first and second grade loop. She is also a certified Reading Specialist, with teaching experience as a former high school English teacher, and early grades Remedial Reading.