Pumpkin Seed Counting Sticks
Wednesday we scooped out pulp and seeds from our carving pumpkin and had fun hunting for letters too! After we were done I rinsed and set aside a couple handfuls of seeds to dry. This afternoon we turned those plain seeds into something fun and educational. Recognizing numbers and understanding their value is a BIG concept for a preschooler. One of the very best ways they learn is through physical or tactile experiences. To help MJ develop her number sense we started out by identifying the numbers she does know. I laid out popsicle sticks labeled with numbers 1-10 and had her tell me numbers she recognized.
Next, we added seeds to correspond with the written number on the bottom of the popsicle stick. (Pro-tip: to prevent marker bleeding on wooden popsicle sticks use acrylic paint as a background behind where you plan to write)
MJ counted out the number of seeds to go on each stick and we glued them on as we went along.
After the counting sticks were dry, I set two sticks out in front of MJ at a time and asked her to identify them in comparison to one another. For example, "which one is the number 8?" She would touch each seed to count and pick up the correct stick. I'd praise her and have her touch the written number and call out it's name. "This is the number 8!" We did several round of play like that.
Finally, we finished out activity with combining numbers. This is very basic addition without calling it addition. I chose two sticks, put them together, and would ask, "how many does 3 and 1 make?" MJ would touch each seed on both sticks and tell me the total number. We're not working on addition quite yet but the goal was to give her exposure to combining numbers. She did great and even combined bigger numbers as well.
This activity was a lot of fun and easy to do because we just emptied our pumpkin but counting sticks are super simple to make with any type of seed or dry bean. If you don't have time for liquid glue to dry try using hot glue instead it works just as well and takes much less time!