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Bottle top bar graphs.

October 28, 2016

My previous post was all about the many ways you can use bottle tops to enhance learning and we had a lot of fun creating our own bar graph so I wanted to share this activity with you!

To begin I explained to Carter that we were creating a bar graph which would show us how many different coloured lids we had. I always try to use the right names/vocabulary even if I think it is beyond him and he won’t remember it-if we don’t expose them to the vocab-they will never learn it.

There are so many different learning opportunities with this activity!

  1. Colour sorting: I explained to Carter that we needed to find all the dark blue lids and put them in a straight line. The more different coloured lids you have, the better the opportunity to revise colours.
  2. Counting: After each line was complete we would count how many lids were in that line. Depending on the age of your child you could scribe the number or they could. Getting them to put their pointer finger on each lid as they count also encourages one to one correspondence (basically ensures they are counting the right amount of lids).
  3. Number identification: Writing the number of lids on a piece of paper and displaying them as part of the graph gives children a reference point, helps them to identify the number of lids and continues to reinforce number identification.
  4. Vocabulary opportunities: These are endless! We used language such as ‘most’, ‘least’, ‘graph’, ‘how many’, ‘graph’, etc. I also tried to ask him as many questions as I could so that he used the graph to obtain his answers. E.G: “Which colour has the most lids?” “How many dark blue lids are there? How could we find out?”
  5. Fine motor skills: I got Carter to cut out the pieces of paper to write our numbers on, he placed the bottle lids in a line-quick little opportunities to practice those fine motor skills!!

This has been one of our favourite activities so far-when Carter asks the next day to make another one you know you are onto a winner!! Enjoy!!


Bottle tops and Maths!

October 20, 2016

It’s been awhile between posts, a busy toddler will do that to you! We have been very busy using bottle tops, they can be used in many ways for a variety of learning opportunities.

Making ‘groups of’.

It’s never too early to start introducing mathematical language. Making groups is not only introducing multiplication but it is also a great way to introduce little ones to the idea of division through equal sharing. To start, I asked Carter how many groups he would like to make. We drew circles to represent the groups (e.g 2) and I then prompted him to put an equal amount of lids in each circle. If he placed three in each, I would then scribe the sentence 2 groups of 3. We would count each group to ensure they both had three lids in each and then to extend the learning we would add the groups together to get a total amount. There’s many concepts involved with this activity, so lots of repetition is the key and I would suggest starting with one group and building from there.


Different coloured lids can be used for making patterns. To begin, I would suggest an adult starting the pattern and then working together with your child to follow it. Depending on the age and ability level of your child would depend on the complexity of the pattern (e.g 4 step patterns). Always verbalize the pattern as you are completing it to explicitly demonstrate that a pattern constantly repeats itself.


Counting by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s-the opportunities are endless depending on the amount of lids you have!!

How many do I have?

Lining up the lids and counting and comparing how many different colours you have encourages children to use language such as ‘more’ and ‘less’ whilst also producing a real life bar graph!

Making number shapes.

An effective way to revise number formation. I have the number written down for Carter and he fills in the number with bottle tops. We focus on where the number starts and ends and once the number is full we count how many lids it took to fill the number. Once your child is confident writing numbers they will be able to begin forming the numbers with bottle tops independently.



Carter’s counting tray.

June 17, 2016
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A great way to use an old egg carton and build fine motor skills whilst also learning to count!

We bought number stickers from Officeworks and stuck them in the egg carton and using screws (to keep Carter engaged) we have been counting the correct number of screws into their corresponding number tray.


  • Counting using one to one correspondence. Carter is learning to count each screw one at a time. Often at this age children tend to ‘double count’, so as he picks each individual screw one at a time, the notion of counting is reinforced.
  • Fine motor skills. Using his fingers to pick up the little screws increases strength in his fingers. As his confidence grows, I plan to introduce a pair of tongs to further develop his skills as he must control the tongs in order to pick up the screw. You could also use tweezers, pegs, etc to pick up the object. Instead of screws you could also use buttons, pom poms, little blocks, anything that will fit into the egg carton!


Carter’s activity board.

June 9, 2016

Carter has become increasingly interested in how things work. Toys are often turned upside down to see where the batteries fit, locks have been unlocked and locked many, many times and Daddy’s tool box is the latest obsession and he could spend hours exploring its contents…

His Grandpa got creative this week and made him his own activity board and it’s a hit. Bunnings themed of course because that’s Carter’s favourite place to hang out 🙂

The board includes:

  • A ruler which is placed on a hook-great for introductory measurement activities;
  • a padlock which when unlocked opens a small square door;
  • lots of different sized hooks to fit certain shaped chains-Carter is also learning to hang one chain between two hooks-the chains are different lengths though so he has to work out which one will be the best fit, which ones don’t reach etc-encouraging problem solving skills;
  • cylinder shaped lids which he can unscrew and inside he will find more tools (great for revising which way we open and close);
  • a padlock with a key-teaching him about spatial awareness;
  • a ramp so he can have car races (of course);
  • a tap;
  • Bunnings stickers-an engaging way to encourage reading and letter identification;
  • a flashing light…

The list goes on!

There are many benefits to activity boards. They keep children engaged through a variety of sensory activities and the board encourages them to use their imagination to create their own play whilst also problem solving in a ‘hands on’ learning environment. They encourage discussion and therefore develop vocabulary and communication skills whilst also prompting a child to manipulate objects and use their fine motor skills in order to achieve a desired result (e.g: unlock a padlock by fitting the key).


Scissors and toddlers.

May 5, 2016

When I was teaching, I was astounded at how many five year olds couldn’t use a pair of scissors. Us teachers would spend hours trying to ‘fill the gaps’ and try to teach them a skill we assumed they would have mastered or at least had experience with before coming to school.

Now I’m a parent I’ve spent the last year hiding the scissors from my toddler. Could you imagine the damage a little boy on the move could cause with a pair of scissors? Plus it took him long enough to grow hair, I’m happy for him to keep it not style it his own way.

What a contradiction! The teacher who expects a child to use scissors with ease versus the parent who is scared of arming their child with that kind of weapon.

Time to meet somewhere in the middle. Under INTENSE supervision Carter has been learning how to use scissors. He’s 2 and a half now and understands that they can only be used when mum or dad are around and he’s enjoying destroying, I mean cutting all the paper he can find. At the moment I’m giving him the freedom to cut any way he likes (later on I will introduce sheets with lines and the focus will become more refined). This week we cut out different foods and labelled them (mummy cut out the blueberries picture to show him what to do), combining some literacy with the cutting activity. He needs some assistance but he’s already gaining some control over the scissors which will later help him when holding a pencil and beginning to write.

Using scissors encourages the fingers to work together, much like holding a pencil does, so by cutting Carter is strengthening these muscles in his fingers as well as his hand whilst also increasing his fine motor skills.

So yes, under close supervision it will benefit your toddler to teach them how to use scissors. Maybe store them on a top shelf though…just in case they become too confident 😉


Autumn leaves are falling…

April 28, 2016
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As a Teacher I was often asked by parents; “how is my child going in maths? I was never good at it so I want to know how they are doing”. I was surprised how often I heard those words…”I was never good at maths.” To be honest, I said it myself. There seems to be a negative stigma associated with maths, you’re either considered ‘good at it’ or you’re not. It’s often an internal assessment, it seems to be one of those areas in life that people are either confident in or even the thought of solving an equation makes them anxious. Maths is often misunderstood though. When undertaking professional development at my school the year I was pregnant I learnt to think about maths differently. Rather than there being a problem that needed to be solved with one specific method, I was taught to ask open ended questions and allow my students to learn through discovery. It sounds so simple now looking back- but it’s often the case, we think we must get to an answer using one method and we forget that children learn differently, they bring their own knowledge and skills to the table, even as toddlers and they can actually teach us different ways to learn.

So as the autumn leaves begin to fall in Melbourne town, we are outside all rugged up, exploring. Today we are counting the leaves one by one and moving as we count to encourage one to one correspondence. I’ve learnt that Carter needs to be moving and preferably outdoors (typical boy) so I’m learning what works for him and teaching accordingly. At his age it also needs to be quick teaching points so I incorporate some open ended teaching questions into whatever activity we might already be doing. It’s hands on and engaging and he takes ownership.  He’s learning because he is discovering it all himself, and that’s where the authentic learning really happens.

Number rocks.

April 13, 2016

We collect rocks everywhere we go. EVERYWHERE!

This week I decided to get creative with some of the rocks (thanks Pinterest) so I’ve painted numbers on them. I chose the numbers 10-20, painted them on the rocks and put them in order for Carter, saying the number as I looked for it. Once I had them all I counted them whilst pointing to each one, demonstrating one to one correspondence and counting out aloud.

There’s so many fun activities you can do with these!

  • Having a number sheet and asking your child to place the rock on the matching number helps to reinforce number identification;
  • Putting the numbers in order from lowest to highest;
  • A treasure hunt is also a fun one, hiding all the rocks and getting your child to say the number as he/she finds them;
  • Painting dots on another set of rocks and then matching the dots with the numeral reinforces the counting process.

Carter loved seeing ‘his rocks’ with numbers on them-it engaged him and he took ownership over the activity-very important as it makes the learning more authentic.


Long and short: a measurement activity.

April 7, 2016
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Autumn has well and truly hit Melbourne which means it’s time to get the gumboots and raincoats on and go exploring.

Today we were collecting sticks and Carter was lining them up on the trampoline. A simple question here introduced a new concept to him. ‘Which stick is the longest?’ He looked and pointed to the one he believed was longest and I then followed up with ‘now which one is the shortest?’ Two questions which introduced new vocabulary, the concept of measurement and prompted him to find an ‘even bigger’ stick than our longest one. It’s a simple activity, yet very engaging and can be adapted in many ways. If there’s a few children you could make it a competition to see who can find the longest and shortest stick, you could use a variety of different materials (bark and rocks are always fun) and once children are confident you could introduce a ruler and measure each one, recording your results.

A fun activity to enjoy outside!

Fill it up!

March 14, 2016
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This is a quick, easy learning activity to prepare and water is involved so it keeps the little ones entertained!!

I showed Carter what a ‘full cup’, a ‘half full’ cup and an ’empty cup’ of water looked like.

He then had a go at filling each one according to my instruction e.g ‘fill that one halfway’ and we then compared it to the other two cups. Although informal, it has started the process of comparing different capacities and it has introduced him to new mathematical language.

For older children you could fill different shaped containers, asking them to estimate which would hold the most/least water before filling them and then comparing their results with their estimations.


Hairy Maclary’s Rumpus at the Vet!

March 10, 2016

Hairy Maclary books are a lot of fun. Carter loves the characters and the rhyme aspect of the book means that he is able to join in and predict what word is coming next (or in his case, we’ve read them so many times he has now memorized what word is coming next!)

This book’s illustrations in particular are fantastic and we’ve been able to draw on the mathematical concept of counting using the pictures of the animals at the vet. Carter enjoys counting how many birds fly out of Grandmother Goff’s cage and I’ve been helping him use his finger to do this which encourages one to one correspondence. Mastering this skill helps a child in their early years of schooling as they learn to count a collection of objects. It takes a lot of repetition but this book with its engaging illustrations makes it a fun way to practice this skill.