We know preschoolers need lots of physical activity. So why not combine physical activity and a little imaginative play with learning in this fun Fall-themed counting game for preschoolers!
Encouraging Numbers and Counting Skills
Math manipulatives, like counters, can be expensive. But the good news is they don’t have to be! In Fall, nature provides an endless supply of free manipulatives. Around our yard, acorns are plentiful and were our go-to counters in this simple counting game for preschoolers.
This Feed the Squirrel, Fall-themed counting game works on a number of skills, including:
- Number recognition (1-5)
- Number formation (1-5)
- One-to-one correspondence
- Basic arithmetic
Start with a Counting Scavenger Hunt
If your immediate play area is not plentiful with acorns, start with a nature scavenger hunt to collect them. My preschoolers thought it was great fun, like a Fall version of an Easter egg hunt. Instruct them to collect a specific number of acorns to add a fun counting challenge.
Feed the Squirrel
Once you have collected acorn counters, invite children to place their acorns around the perimeter of your play area. Using sidewalk chalk and a toy squirrel, instruct preschoolers to take turns feeding the squirrel a designated number of acorns.
Encourage them to count out the acorns to make sure they have the correct number. How many do they have? Do they need more? How many more do they need?
And of course, they will actually want to feed the toy squirrel!
You can even pair this activity with a book about squirrels, such as Nuts to You! by Lois Ehlert.
Extensions for Older Students
Older preschoolers may be ready to try to write the numbers themselves. Place piles of different numbers of acorns and ask them to count and write the number next to each pile. You can also use numbers up to 10 or 20 for those who are ready. Finally, you can add elements of basic arithmetic, forming addition and subtraction sentences, such as “The squirrel has 2 acorns, but he finds 2 more. How many acorns does he have now?”
BIO: Meghan is a former hedge fund professional turned SAHM to Big M (4), Lil’ M (3), and Baby M (11 months). She writes at Playground Parkbench, where she shares practical parenting tips, STEM activities for preschoolers, and family financial savvy. If you enjoyed this post, check out Deck the Crown with Jewels, a princess-themed counting game for preschoolers. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.