|Babies||Walkers to 2||2s to 3s||3s to 4s|
Overview and benefit
Learning to count back as well as forward is a key skill which needs to be mastered before a child can start to tackle the concept of subtraction. Counting back from five is a good place to start as it’s easier for a child to use their five fingers to keep track of the numbers as they count. They need to learn the pattern of words that go with counting back as well as the concept of taking off one each time. This activity develops a child’s counting ability and number recognition, increases gross motor skills, hand-eye co–ordination and accuracy in throwing. It teaches them to work as a team, wait patiently in line and take turns. The children may shortly be attending a nursery or pre-school, so this will be an excellent start to establishing their numerical understanding.
- CD – some back ground music
- Card – Laminated numbers (1-5 *2 ). Possibly higher numbers if you need more of a challenge
- 10x hoops (optional)
- 20 bean bags (or something similar i.e balls)
Three to six weeks
How it works
Numbers are stuck onto the walls to form number stations.
Each pair of children will be given a hoop (optional), a bean bag/ball each. One child will hold the hoop with an adult, while the other child, with the support of the parent, throws the bean bag/ball into the hoop the correct number of times, counting aloud as they do so. The children should be working in pairs, aided by the parents in order to promote sharing social skills. Once one child has had a go at throwing, the roles should swap so that both children have had a go at both throwing and holding the hoop. The parents should encourage the child to read the number from the wall and count the correct number of throws. When both children have completed both roles, the pair move to a new empty number station.
If hoops are not being used then the two children will simply take it in turns to throw the bean bag or ball to each other the number of times on the card, with both adults and children counting each throw. Children should work in pairs where this is possible to promote social skills and sharing.
What to do in the class
Split the group into pairs and give each pair 5 bean bags and a hoop. The children then choose a number station and are asked by the adults what the number is.
One child will hold the hoop at around their waist level, supported on the other side by an adult. The other child will then throw the correct number of bean bags through the hoop with both children and adults counting aloud as they do so.
Once they have got the correct number of bean bags in the hoop as on the card the children will then swap roles so that both have had a turn at throwing and counting. When a team has completed the task they can move to a different number station and repeat the exercise. As an alternative to bean bags and hoops, ball pit balls and buckets or something similar can be used.
- This activity could be used with Two to Four classes.
- Talk to the children about taking turns and being in a team before you start
- If you find that taking turns just does not work well in a particular class an alternative version of this activity would be for the parent and child simply to throw the bean bag to each other while counting each throw together.
- You can use a variety of tasks at each number station, i.e hoops, throwing to a bucket, throwing into a net, or putting on a quiot stand– with different balls, bean bags and quoits. This will add interest, but you need to encourage the parents to help keep all the right items as the number stations as the children will try to move everything you set up.
- When doing this activity it can be difficult to get the children to do what they are supposed to! It might help to use mats instead of hoops.
- Ask parents to count the dots first with the children at the number stations.
- There are lots of different ways you can organise this activity. Trish runs it by having two pairs of parent and child on each number station. One child holds the bucket and 1 child throw while both children count. Each number station has different numbers and different props to throw (e.g. bean bags, quoits, balls) so you don’t need so many of each items.
- You can choose which numbers to do.
What to do in a nursery setting
To adapt this element to a nursery setting, hold up a number card, see if the children can read the number then get them to count with you as you throw the correct amount of bean bags to individual children, repeat until all children are holding a bean bag, then get them to stand and throw and count with you the number of times on the card you are holding.
Give each child a bean bag to hold, hold up a number and get the children to look at it and count up to that number on their fingers. Explain that when you call a child’s name, that you want them to throw their bean bag into the bucket until you reach the correct number of bean bags. Get the children to join in the counting with you.