This is a quick-to-set-up activity to help develop 1-to-1 correspondence, with a million variations. “What is 1-to-1 correspondence, and why do I care about developing it?,” you might ask. Here is a very nice explanation I found on 1-to-1 correspondence by Love and Lollipops.
-some things to put in the holes (amount corresponding to the # of holes)
-a container to put the things in while they are waiting to be put in the holes
-*optional* (for the more advanced): something to use to move the things into the holes (tongs, spoon/ladle, chopsticks- will help with fine-motor development)
The example here shows a tray with a small pyrex bowl filled with pompoms (15, 3 of each of 5 colors. “why?,” you may ask. “Um, because those were the pompoms I had. Uh, they looked summery on a cold June day?” ), some tongs, and a 15 “hole” silicone ice cube tray.
The goal is to have the child fill each “hole” with one of each item, ideally from left to right and top to bottom. “Why left to right & top to bottom?” Because that is the way we read! Sneaky way to fit in some indirect preparation for reading…
Montessori teaches that 2 1/2 to 4 years old is the critical window for developing sensory perception, so I’ve been trying to come up with activities to help Br “heighten” his senses. I came across an idea for making a touch matching game on the site “Chasing Cheerios” (isn’t that an amusing, and mommy-appropriate, visual?)
-balloons (5 pairs- I used 5 red & 5 orange balloons, as they coordinated nicely with the containers I found in the $1 area of Target)
-materials to fill balloons (I used cornstarch, cornmeal, dried lentils, & popcorn kernels- 3 to 4 Tablespoons per balloon seemed to be about the right amount [so, 6-8 T per material]. For those of you counting , still need a 5th item. Plan is to get some large dried beans for my last pair of balloons…)
-funnel (I didn’t have one the right size-small end fits in the hole of the balloon, but opening big enough for the beans, etc. to fit through- so I made one out of junk mail [card stock weight] curved into my funnel shape & stapled in place)
-2 containers (one for each color of balloons)
-blindfold/scarf (something to cover their eyes or the containers so they are only using there sense of touch to match them- once they have there “matches” they can self correct visually) – found eye masks for $0.50 in the $1 area at Target, near where I found the paperboard bins we used for this
Voice of experience: I recommend using a halfsheet pan (cookie sheet with sides) or tray underneath when your filling the balloons. My balloons slipped a few times and the stuff came pouring out of the funnel… good to have that contained. Try to squeeze as much air out of the balloons as possible before you tie them closed (so it will be easier to feel whats inside). Do this *very slowly* with the cornstarch- I didn’t the 1st time and my black shirt was short of “gray” afterwards….
I tried to have Br play the game this morning. He was pretty amused with wearing the eye mask, and started trying to match the items. Unfortunately, Bl was also very interested in them. Bl kept grabbing one and then dropping it to grab another. Made it pretty impossible for Br to do much of anything blindfolded…. Luckily (?), Br wasn’t that vested in the activity yet, so he didn’t get too upset. Br did call Daddy over, told him how to do it, and had Daddy try (& Daddy was quick enough to get them matched before Bl could run off with them) . That was pretty cute. I’ll try again when Bl is napping sometime.
As a side note, I was a little surprised how difficult it was too tell the difference between the lentil & popcorn kernel bags. We’ll see if that part is too challenging for Br.
Today Br made bead counters, which was a good activity for building fine-motor development, as well as a great activity to build on.
If you aren’t familiar with them, bead counters are a typical Montessori-type material. There is a single “bead strip” for each number from 1 to 9, and then 10 additional “10 bead strips”. With these, you can physically represent all numbers from 1 to 100 (well, I guess up to 109…)
Once we have these completed, I will work on some “jobs” with them to help Br develop a concrete grasp of those numerical values.
-pipe cleaners (it took us 3 to make bead strips for numbers 1-10)
-beads (55 for numerals 1-10, another 90 to make the other 9 “10 bead strips”. I used “pony beads”, which I found in a mixed color pack at Target for $2.00 for 400 beads)
-something to cut the pipe cleaners (there is thin wire in the middle, which may trash nice scissors. I used “Trauma Shears” left over from my old paramedic days…)
To start, I bent the pipe cleaner at one end to keep the beads from sliding off. The wire in the middle of the pipe cleaner is a little sharp, especially after cutting. (I initially tried to wrap it in on itself to bury that end, but the beads kept sliding off, so finally just bent it up)
I had Br thread the beads on the pipe cleaner (the fine motor skill). Once he had placed the appropriate number of beads on, I had him pass it on to me to cut (about 1/2 inch past the last bead) & bend it. I let him try cutting it a few times (with clear direction on where the cut need to be), but the “trauma shears” were a little large for him to do comfortably.
After the first two, I decided to have him use the same color beads in the same order for the rest of them. My theory was it might help him more quickly recognize the different “numbers”. We’ll see how that works out… It did end up being a good opportunity to help reinforce color identification: I told him which color bead he needed next to have it match up to the previous counters made (“you got the yellow bead on, now we need the green bead next to have it match up to your other ones…”)
He was showing signs of “fatigue” by the time we got to the “10” counter (using the pipe cleaner as a “bull dozer” in the bowl of beads, leaning pathetically on his hand), so we’ll do the other “10”s counters later. I might try to do the other “10” counters differently, maybe alternating colors (emphasize odd/even?) or all a single color?