Welcome to Totschool Tuesday! If you’re new to this series, join me every Tuesday this month as I share what types of activities I do to prepare my three-year-old for the next phase in his education. Last week, I shared my “I Can Count” preschool busy box. This week, I want to share my “Number Matching and Sequencing” busy box.
What is a “busy box?” You may have heard of “busy bags”—that is, bags full of educational goodies designed to engage busy tots. My busy boxes are the same concept with a different storage solution. These 5×12 boxes are stored with activities that encourage fluency practice for everything from counting to phonics.
My reasoning for using boxes is simple: 1) I found them in the back of my closet, forgotten and unused. 2) My three-year-old thinks he’s receiving a “gift” every morning—which gets him super excited about learning. So there ya go! Feel free to use Ziplock bags, storage containers, or anything you’d like.
Our “Number Matching and Sequencing” box includes a cut and paste worksheet, a glue stick, safety scissors, number flashcards, 10 fuzzy sticks, 165 pony beads (lots of counting involved!), twenty magnetic sticks, twenty magnetic balls, empty containers, extra paper, and three markers.
This box is designed to practice fluency in counting numbers 11-20. Here’s how we used the items listed above. Feel free to adjust the activities to suit the numbers your child/student is currently working with.
First, my preschooler-to-be works on his cut and paste worksheet. Cut and paste is one of his favorite activities. Cut and paste is also a great way for tots to develop and strengthen fine motor skills and bilateral coordination—that is, the act of using both sides of the body at the same time while each hand performs a different task. You can find this cut and paste worksheet available for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. This worksheet helps students visualize the correlation between a number and its quantity.
Next, we have a little flashcard fun by matching the numbers on the flashcards to the number of beads on each fuzzy stick. There are ten fuzzy sticks. Each fuzzy stick comprises a quantity of numbers 11 thru 20, since those are the numbers we are working with this month. My three-year-old counts the beads on each stick and places the correct flashcard next to the fuzzy stick. Easy peasy!
For more counting fun, I included some magnetic sticks and balls. I included an empty container that my tot can place the balls into as he counts, so that they don’t roll off the table. Afterwards, he can have a little magnetic fun with these items! For some reason, kids love putting things into empty containers and then taking them out again… (*shrugs).
The very last thing I included was a blank sheet of paper and some markers for drawing. This is a “busy box” after all, and I wanted to make sure that if my three-year-old finished all the tasks quickly, he had something else to occupy him and engage his imagination. Although I work with him on the first portion of the busy box to make sure he’s understanding and progressing, my three-year-old typically completes the other tasks independently—allowing me a free moment to work with my first grader. To gain a few more moments, I always include extra paper and markers. It extends my three-year-old’s “busyness” an extra ten to fifteen minutes.
I want to end this post by saying, please use discretion. Obviously small magnetic balls are not suitable for any child under the age of three. You can supplement with big wooden magnets or other items suitable for counting. Lastly, while these boxes are designed to teach they should also be fun! If your child/student is new to the concept of busy boxes/bags, allow them a time or two to play with the items before you introduce how the items can be used for learning. This will reduce any pressure they may feel and make them more willing to learn something new.
Until next time, friend!