Nursery rhymes and fairy tales are foundational in the preschool years. Not only are these rhymes and stories great literacy tools, they also are cultural connections. The stories and rhymes that teachers tell today are the same ones that they heard as children. This nursery rhyme activity relates to “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and encourage number recognition and counting, important math concepts.
Preschoolers are beginning to discover that symbols represent ideas. They are learning that printed words connect to spoken words. They are learning more about letters and shapes. And they are learning that numerals represent numbers and quantities. This activity can help preschoolers recognize and identify numerals.
But numerals are not numbers (quantities). Preschoolers also need hands-on practice with groups of items to understand how many 1 or 2 or 3 is. Making groups of objects, counting objects, and making sets of objects are all ways for children to explore number concepts. These exploration experiences are important for children to understand math and build foundations for future math and number understanding.
Nursery Rhyme Number Game
This activity will guide kids to recognize the numerals 1, 2, and 3. They can also count quantities and compare amounts.
- 3 small gift bags
- white and black pompoms (medium or large sizes)
- Nursery Rhyme Number Game printable
- Clothespins, tongs, chopsticks (optional)
If you cannot find small gift bags, cut the tops from lunch bags or other bags. You can use larger bags but will need lots of pompoms to fill them. Place a numeral on each bag.
Assemble the numbered cube. I like to stuff the cube with newspaper or other scrap paper before sealing so it will be more durable. You could also cover it with clear packing tape or clear contact plastic to increase durability.
As an alternative to the number cube printable, make your own numbered cube on a boutique tissue box or wooden cube. Or use tape to alter a numbered cube from a board game.
Play the Game
Invite a child to roll the cube. Note the background on the cube and lead the child to put that color of pompom in the matching numbered bag. Offer clothespins, tongs, or chopsticks to move the clothespins, if you choose. (This will build fine motor skills.)
Continue rolling and adding pompoms to the bags until one bag is full. Or play until all bags are full. (Or stop when children choose.) Pour out the bags and count the number of black pompoms and white pompoms. Compare by asking, “Are there more black pompoms or white pompoms?” Compare quantities among the three bags.
Nursery Rhyme Counting Game
Adjust the game for counting instead of matching the numerals. When a child rolls the cube, he can count the quantity of black or white pompoms and put them in a bag. (Each child can have his own bag, or he can choose any of the shared bags to use.) When bags are full, pour out the pompoms and compare quantities (as above).
For older children, use 1-6 on the numbered cube (or change the numerals to larger ones).
Encourage your children to explore other ways to adjust this game. Or change the number cube (and labels on the bags) to other symbols.
Baa Baa Black Sheep
Say the rhyme as you begin or end this game. Play to fill all three bags and say “Three bags full!” when you complete the game. Challenge kids to think and add by asking questions like, “How many bags full would we have if we had 1 more bag? 3 more bags?” Encourage kids to say the rhyme and change it to a different number: “Four bags full!”
For more ideas for Baa Baa Black Sheep, check out the Baa Baa Black Sheep Literacy and Math Packet.
Follow my Nursery Rhymes Pinterest Board for more great ideas!