I love it when a game so cheap to make is such a big
hit! When my daughter was nearing 3 years old she LOVED counting.
She would proudly count to 30 with only a few mistakes. BUT...she couldn't
correctly count a pile of 5 pennies. I think our preschoolers hear
1,2,3,4,5,6,7 etc., so much that they are working off of memory and can easily
repeat it. I wanted her to be able to apply her knowledge.
One night on a McD's visit she ran out of fries. She wanted some of
mine. I offered her 3 and ONLY three and we counted them carefully into
her empty bag. That planted the idea for a game. The manager gave me
12 boxes that night. I went home thinking to use fun foam but it isn't
thick enough. If memory serves me correctly it was my son who suggested
cutting up a sponge.
I bought a large kitchen sponge [on sale too] and cut it up. I didn't
worry about perfect rectangles or equal lengths. I think you should avoid
sponges with any anti-bacterial chemicals in them just to be safe.
I wrote the numbers one to ten in the back top edge of the boxes. I also
included dots to represent the values of the numbers.
ONE TO ONE CORRESPONDENCE
Tap each dot as you count. THEN count each french fry as you drop it in the box.
We use an empty box to represent the equal function. I think this allows
kids to VISUALIZE that adding INCREASES your number. If the problem
was 2 + 3 = __ I would have my daughter first count out 2 fries into the 2 box
and then 3 fries into the 3 box. Then she is reminded to MOVE the fries
from the 2 boxes into the empty box. I wanted her to SEE how adding means
2 smaller groups becoming one larger group.
We would start with a larger number like 9 and I would ask her if I could
eat 4 of her fries. I would pretend to eat them, keeping them in my lap. Then I
would say "If you have 9 fries and mommy eats 4 of them how many are left
for you"? I believe in teaching word problems early - that, IMO, is
the test to see if a child can apply a concept. You would be surprised at what
these little people can do.
I asked for more holders at our next trip to McDonald's. As we play I
'order" a number of fries and see if they can be shared by 3 empty holders
[to represent me and the kids] or by 4 to include sharing with dad. Of course
you can use any other numbers like dividing the fries by 2 or by 5 or whatever.
My kids often jump into imaginative play using the fries as props.
My oldest will bring out his fake money cash tray. We have the most
fun with ridiculous prices - like $5.17 for 8 french fries :-) I believe
that this game could be used to gently introduce coins to the younger child or
as a fun drill for the child who is struggling with 1 nickel = 5 pennies.
I am sure to model what I deem to be appropriate customer service skills. Not
the sluggish 'here or go' you have mumbled at you nowadays. I speak
clearly and use proper sentences. Even my little girl will say
"hello, what would you like today?" My son gets a kick out of
saying "would you like any fries with that"? He thinks it's
funny! We order other food besides fries and have a grand old time.