Bug counting – with free printable counting mats

It took me more than a month to prepare this activity. In a normal case it would have been 2 days. However, since Baby Sis was born there hasn’t been such a thing as “normal case” in our house any more. But now it’s finished.

You need bottle tops, minimum 11, for dots from 0 to 10. I made 2 sets as it is more comfortable to make additions later on. (The caps are from Nestea and Cappy bottles)

The truth is I had a little helper who picked and tested all the bottle tops. This is optional, of course.

I used a black permanent marker to make the body of the bugs plus the dots. On the black tops I used white paint to make the dots visible. If you don’t use black bottle tops you can skip this step.
To make them more bug-like and more fun-looking I glued googly eyes on them:

The first time I presented it to E. she wasn’t very interested. She opened the envelope quite reluctantly. (This should have been the time to put it away and come back to it at another time. But we gave it a try.)

She was looking at the bugs and started to put them in order but when she reached the six-dotted bug she began to imitate a fight with the bugs.

Then she knuckled them from the table claiming the ladybirds wanted to fly away. I asked her if she wanted to have a look at the mats. She didn’t so I packed a month of work away and tried to swallow my frustration.

Then we gave it another try. I didn’t even mention ordering the bugs, I rather showed her the mats. She showed more interest than before. As she is perfectly familiar with the numbers, counting the dots made her uneasy a little bit.

But we managed to do 4 of the mats, …

 

 

…then she made a task for me:

The second addition was really tricky as we don’t have a bug with 14 don’t on them. I asked E. what we should do. And she helped me out in a really smart way:

 

I thought this activity would be much more fun, and E. would be fascinated by the bugs and counting… well… I was a little wrong. Nevertheless, we did have some fun and I’m sure someone might enjoy it even more than we did.

Download your FREE counting mats from here:

If you try it with your children let me know how it went.

 

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Valentine’s Day sensory bin

Last year we didn’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day but used the opportunity to do a lot of fun crafts and activities with the symbols of Valentine’s day, like hearts, candies, chocolates etc.

This year I’ve come up with a sensory bin idea for this occasion.

What I used:

  • one big container (IKEA)
  • coloured rice – red, purple, and white (see how to make it below)
  • hearts, candies, feather, beads (whatever you have) to search for in the bin hidden in the rice
  • cups and bowls
  • tools like ladle, tongs, tweezers (I couldn’t find the tweezers ūüė¶ )
How I coloured the rice:
You need:
  • a zip lock bag (IKEA)
  • 2 cups of rice (any kind of white rice will do)
  • food colouring (liquid type is better than the gel)
  • a bit of alcohol (optional)
How to do it:
Put 2 cups of rice in the zip lock bag, add 1 teaspoonful of red (or any other colour) food colouring and half a teaspoonful of alcohol. The latter is optional. It helps to get brighter colours plus your rice will last long if not forever…
Now give it a shake until the colour is everywhere on the rice. (I didn’t but you can do it with your child. It must be fun for them to see how the rice changes colour)
I did the same with the purple rice. As I didn’t have purple food colouring I mixed it out of red and blue beforehand.
I dried the rice on baking paper to make sure it won’t stain my hand and to get rid of the smell of alcohol.
I put the rice in the container (half red, half purple Рmy daughter did the mixing) and I also provided some white rice for extra fun.

What I put in the bin:

  1.  wooden muffin
  2. purple butterfly beads
  3. sparkly candies (cut out of a foam sheet but you can add real candy, too)
  4. red jingle bells
  5. wooden hearts
  6. pegs with hearts on
  7. purple pompoms
  8. pink flower-shaped beads
  9.  red feathers
  10. felt hearts
I hid them in the rice as much as I could.
Extras: I cut out 6 hearts and wrote the letters of my daughter’s name on them. I also put them in the bin so she can make her name when she finds them. (The easiest way to make the foam hearts is to use a heart-shaped cookie cutter. I pressed it on the foam sheet and cut along the print it made.)

E. was pretty excited about the bin as soon as she saw it.

She poured in the extra white rice.

She happily used the ladle and the tongs.

She used the bowls to put in whatever she found. (It was interesting to see that she separated them like hearts, round things like pompoms, bells, and beads all by herself)

She also enjoyed mixing the coloured rice with her hands.

After she’d found and taken out everything she asked Daddy to find what she’d hidden. Then they took turns and did the same again and again.

The next day I gave her 2 sheets with the objects she can find in the bin on the top and she selected them in each column. We did a little counting as well.

On the second day I also added the letter of “I LOVE YOU”
With a little help she could put it together.

She’s been playing with it ever since.
-Mommy, we can play with it on the floor, too – she said and continued down there.

TWO other activities to do with the rice:

  1. write with fingers
  2. I spy bottle

What are these? Come back later to check them out. I’ll show them to you in another post.