Counting Jars Game

Here's a really simple idea which is fun to put together and fun to play with. You can play with the jars in many different ways, making is suitable for a wide age range too. Perhaps older kids could make the game for younger siblings?

Counting Jars Game

Age: 3+

Collect 10 safe plastic jars or containers. You could use small plastic food storage tubs or small snack tubs. We bought a set of 10 plastic jars from a craft supply shop for very little money.

Use different colours of craft foam to cut out the numbers 1-10 and stick to the top of the jars. You could also cut the numbers from sandpaper. The idea of the raised and textural numbers is that your child can feel and trace over the number with their fingers, which can help them to learn more quickly. You could of course also just use a large number sticker or write the number on each container with a permanent marker.

Now fill each container with the appropriate number of small objects. We used die, beads, "knucklebones", marbles, buttons, miniature toy people left over from another game, pebbles, and tiny toy cars.

Vary the objects according to the age of the child. For example, a child who is just starting to learn their numbers could have 10 identical large red buttons in the "number 10" container. For an older child you could make up the number 10 with a mixture of different buttons of all sizes and colours.

Here are some ways in which you can use the game:

Learning each number

Take the jar which corresponds to the number which you are learning. Trace the number with your child's fingers (in the way in which you would write it) and say the number out loud. Ask your child to tip out the contents of the jar. Now count the contents back into the jar, saying each number out loud as you do so.

Tip the contents out again and make patterns with them on the table. Show your child that, however you arrange the objects, there are always the same number when you count them back into the jar.

Easy sorting

Tip the contents of 2 or more jars out onto the table and ask your child to sort them into piles - perhaps by colour, and then by shape, and finally by type of object. Now count them back into the correct jars.

Learning more than one number

Take 2 or 3 jars - more as your child progresses - and ask your child to tip all the contents onto the table and muddle them up. Now see if they can put the objects back into the jars correctly.

NB: Please take care if you are using the games with younger children that objects aren't put into mouths!

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