Let's Practice Numbers with Loose Parts

Merka's Coloring Mats can be used for so much more than just coloring. Our Let's Practice Numbers Mat, which comes as part of the Alphabet Set, is great for encouraging number recognition, counting, and number formation. In this blog we are sharing a fun idea for combining loose parts and one of our most popular coloring mats in order to support your child's numeracy learning.



What You Need

As well as your Numbers Coloring Mat, you will ned your dry erase markers which come with the mat, and some bright and colorful loose parts. Loose parts are simply small items, often of different shapes and colors. We chose to use wooden Grapat Madalas from Biddle and Bop, but you can use pom poms, marker lids, building bricks, even small snacks like Goldfish! Simply set out your materials around the mat and invite your little learner to come and explore.



How It Works

There are lots of different ways to use this set up, all of which are great for early numeracy development and working those all important fine motor skills as well. We chose to first recognize and say each number on the mat, counting the items out loud as we went.



The next stage was to trace the numbers. The mat has a fantastic way of gradually guiding the child through the stages of forming each number. There is plenty of space for tracing the solid number, then with the added challenge of tracing the dotted number instead of the solid line. Finally, there is room on the line to try and write the number independently.



The final stage was the most exciting by far because it involved getting to count out the colorful wooden parts onto each number section of the mat. There was definitely a sense of increased engagement because there was choice when it came to which loose parts to add. This is where using something which has different shapes and colors can really help.



Unexpectedly our little learner also decided to try and color match each number section with the loose parts. As she added the pieces we would count them out, identify the color and also discuss the shape. So much vocabulary and number sense being developed!



By the end of the activity, the mat was filled with colorful loose parts. Depending on the age of the child, you could even extend the activity by asking some simple addition questions. For example, 'how many pieces of fruit are on the mat?', or 'how many balloons and cupcakes can you see?'. This is a simple and hands-on way to get your child to start thinking about addition without it seeming overwhelming to them.



We'd love to hear how you are using our Educational Coloring Mats for enriching learning opportunities at school or in your home. Please tag us, @merkastore, on social media.

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