Counting Cups

What You Need:

  • 11 paper cups
  • markers
  • 55 small objects (like cotton balls, pennies, beans, pasta, jelly beans, screws, or anything else that's fun to touch)

What You Do:

  1. After you've decided on the counting objects, get 11 medium-sized paper cups. Write the numbers 0 through 10 on each cup. Then mix up the cups and give them to your child. Ask your child to place the cups in order from smallest to biggest.
  2. Give your child a collection of 55 objects. Tell her that the point of the game is to look at the number on each cup and put in the matching amount of objects. Be sure to remind your child to count out loud as she places each object in the cup. This helps to reinforce her counting skills and lets you assess her ability to count with one-to-one correspondence.
  3. When your child is finished, empty the cups one at a time and have her check that the number of objects matches the number on the cup.
  4. As your child develops accuracy and fluency working with 0 to 10, increase the numbers by increments of five, eventually working up to 30. It's not necessary to begin at 0 each time. Start in a place that's comfortable, and go as high as she can. As she gets better, pull the cups out in random order. See if she can do the game without the cups ascending. It makes things much trickier!

All done? No need to throw the materials away. Keep a “counting box” in the house with various items that are safe for your child to count independently, and a set of cups with numbers. When you're busy making dinner, and your child is whining for something to do, you can say, “Get out the counting box!” Kids will never tire of this activity if you keep a colorful selection of things to count, so that each time your child opens the box, there's something new to explore.

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