100 Sticker Chart

I’ve been working on counting to 100 with Pumpkin 1.  She’s pretty good but struggles with the teen numbers.  We have a magnetic 100 chart but she wasn’t too interested in it.  She does however LOVE stickers.  Like really loves stickers and will chose new stickers over a new toy.  I had an inspiration to do a 100 sticker chart.  I found these on amazon but I didn’t really want to order anything else right now (on a strict budget) and didn’t want to pay shipping.  I was at Walmart and found coloured blank circle stickers which were perfect to make my own.  With a marker and a blank 100 chart I printed off I was all set.

It was a big hit.  Even Pumpkin 2 wanted his own.  It’s also great work for fine motor skills


The sticker set did have over 300 stickers and we used them all in one sitting between my kids and my daycare child.  I’ll probably pick up some more to do this again.  I was thinking of maybe a fill in the missing number 100 chart or having the numbers all mixed up rather than in order.


I Sea 10 Game

It seems we’re really into games lately.  Maybe it’s the age.  I’ve heard age 4 can be unfocused and distracted and that seems to be where we’re at.  So games go over well.  This one I highly recommend.  I’m planning to eventually teach my children to do calculations on the Japanese abacus.  This requires them to know their sums up to 10.  So I got this game.

I paired it up with the Montessori addition strip board.

I set up the board with all the pairs that add up to 10 for reference.


Then we turn all the numbers over so the fish are up.  To play we turn over one fish.  Then we see what number it pairs with to make ten.  We scan those that are turned over and if we find a match we take them out.  If we don’t, that number is left turned over and the next person goes.


Today we played twice and Pumpkin 1 was starting to memorize pairs that go together.


There are also sharks for the game but I removed them because right now Pumpkin 1 gets too upset about having to put things back.  We combine our pairs together as she doesn’t do well with competitive games at the moment.  It’s much more fun to play cooperatively right now.

Easy DIY Place Value Mat

Place value mats are often used with the Golden Beads and Stamp Game to help organize the materials.  I wanted something simple and easy but more than just paper.  After a bit of thought I came up with this.  I made two.  The mats I got from the Dollar Store for $3 each.  I already had the white acrylic paint (Dollar Store paint) and the fabric paint (Walmart) and the masking tape.


First I put the tape on the mat to define where the lines would go.  Then I used the paint and a paint brush to paint a line down the edge of the tape on the carpet.


After that I used the fabric paint to write the numbers at the top and let dry.  And voilà!  All done.


Golden Beads

So Pumpkin 1 is finally ready for the Golden Beads now that she is confident with her numbers up to 10.


I started off with giving her the beads and telling her the names.  I find she doesn’t remember words quite a quickly as she did when she was 2 and 3.  I suppose she’s past the sensitive period for language.

Next I gave her the number cards 1000, 100, 10 and 1 and we matched them up.  I made my own Golden beads because 1) I wanted to save money and 2) I wanted to do them in two shades to show the 5+ in line with the RightStart Math approach.

It’s not hard to make your own materials.  You need round faceted beads (not perler, if they’re not spheres they won’t make squares), stiff wire, mesh frame (from the dollar store), wire cutters and needle nose pliers.

After I was finally done making 8 more 100 squares and 8 more 10 bars I introduced her to how numbers are formed.  The decimal system or place value is the next step in Math in Montessori and it’s a little different than what’s done in the main stream.  This is because children like to work with large quantities, the child’s absorbent mind and his sensitive periods for order, language and refinement of the senses.  The bead material is very sensorial, the child can see the difference between 100 and 1000.


This was really fun.  I love how hands on it is and how the child can actually see and feel the amount.  It allows Pumpkin to have an understanding of place value that she wouldn’t have grasped otherwise.

The next step is supposed to be done another time but I find you can often combine presentations in home schooling because it’s so 1 on 1 and since she was really engaged I thought it was good to take advantage of it.


So I lay out numbers and then she put out the amount of beads to match.  Then she wanted me to lay out the beads and she find the numbers.  She liked it that way better and we worked on it for quite a while.

Next she asked about 0.  First I lay out beads with no thousand cube and she wanted to know why we don’t put a 0 before the 100.  I was really surprised though when she asked about doing a 0 in the other numbers.


She caught on right away how to write the number with 0 in it and wanted to pick different place values to have 0.

We didn’t do the names of the 10’s numbers.  Instead I called them 2 ten, 3 ten.  The traditional names will come later.

When she was tired of the Golden beads she asked to use the Addition Strip board I had gotten in the mail the day before.  I had worked with her on it after we opened it but realized she just wasn’t ready and it was too abstract but she begged to do it today.

The reason I got the board is because I’ve been really interested in the Japanese Abacus called the Soroban.

Using an abacus requires knowing the sums that equal 10 really well.  This is also part of the RightStart Math curriculum and so the addition strip board is a good way to work on this.

First I said she had to show me she know how to add beads together on the abacus to make 10.  After she did some I went and got out the Addition Strip Board.


She was able to do it but I could tell she didn’t understand the concept so I had her match two strips on the board and then do those numbers on the abacus and that did help but then she discovered something neat….


The Math cubes fit perfectly on the board!  This was great because it really helped her see the concept.  She could see the amount of cubes and then count out how many more she needed to add.  I think we will use it this way for now.

She worked for a long time today.  It’s fun to see her learning and as someone who hated Math in school, I love the way Montessori is done, making Math easy to understand and fun.


Montessori Inspired Math

Pumpkin 1 is just starting to be ready for math at almost 4.  Majority of children aren’t ready for math until that age as their brain hasn’t developed that somewhat abstract thinking skills needed for math.  Math has always been a difficult subject for me but I love the Montessori method of math since it’s so hands on it makes it much easier to understand.

We’re doing a combination of Montessori and Right Start Math.  You can read about the Right Start Math approach here and here.  And a video review by another homeschooling mom here.

Since I still want to use many of the Montessori math materials I am creating my own bead bars, chains and cubes with the Right Start principle of 5+.  Here is what my beads look like.

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So you can see for 6 it’s 5 dark and 1 light.  9 is 5 dark and 4 light.  The 5+ concept helps children to visualize the number.  You can visualize amounts up to 5 but after that you have to group them in your mind to be able to visualize.

Today I was working on helping her understand that the beads and the abacus are the same.


She has always loved the hanging bead stair since she was little.  If you don’t have one I highly recommend it.  Today she was actually counting the beads past 5.  Usually she just rhymes the numbers off without 1 to 1 correspondence after 5 but today she insisted on counting every bead bar carefully.  When you start to worry as a mom that they’re not getting something, just give it time.  A few weeks older can make a ton of difference.

We’ve also been working on some geometry.  Today we did triangles and quadrilaterals.  Pumpkin 1 loves this geoboard from Discovery Toys and I do too.  It’s huge so it’s easy for her fingers to use, unlike the smaller ones.  I made triangles and quadrilaterals on it and she’d tell me which it was.  She also likes to just make pictures with the elastics.


Last week I was teaching her (and learning myself) the different types of triangles.  The geoboard was also perfect for this.


Pumpkin 2 likes to use the other side which is the Giant Pegboard.  Toddlers love to fit things in holes.  You can also do colour and shape matching and patterning and counting and so much more.  It’s just so versatile. You can purchase one for your family here:



We’ve also been doing shapes on the light table.  I use this set of shapes on it and we put them together to make other shapes.  They’re like mini constructive triangles.


I’m really enjoying homeschooling in math because of the awesome manipulatives available.

Home Schooling JK

We’ve been taking a break from home schooling because it was just too difficult with so many daycare kids.  But now that they’ve gone to school and I’ve got the school room/play room organized, we’re starting up again.  Pumpkin 1 is going to be 4 in November and so it’s time to take home schooling more seriously.  It’s also time to start doing more math activities.  I have a number of new math manipulatives.  I love manipulatives for math, being math challenged myself.

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This is two sets of rods from a cusinaire rod set I bought.  They’re great mini red rods.  You can do so many activities with them.  Comparing length, counting, matching, sorting.  We did one set from tallest to shortest and then I showed her how you can combine each rod with a different rod to make them all the same length.  She really liked that and caught on quickly.  This is a great pre-math activity.  I purchased this set from amazon.  The tray is from a M&D block puzzle.  It helps her to line them up without the frustration of bumping them.


These tiles are from a game called Qwirkle.  They’re great for patterning which is an important pre-math and pre-literacy skill.  You can also do colour or shape sorting with younger children and play the game memory with them.  You can purchase this from amazon as well.


Shape pattern pictures and tangrams are also great pre-math activities.  In fact one study found children who did tangrams before a math test scored better than those who didn’t http://www.parentingscience.com/tangrams-for-kids.html.  This set Pumpkin 1 is playing with is a magnetic one by Melissa and Doug.


Pumpkin 1 really dislikes the sandpaper letters.  I was so excited when I found these tracing boards from Alison’s Montessori.  She really likes tracing those letters and the first time I brought it out she wanted to learn more and more letters.  Today I added the sand tray however I don’t think she’s quite ready for it yet.


Pumpkin 1 has started working with the moveable alphabet.  She recently started to catch on that you can write words with letters.  Of course after her name she wanted to write “Elsa” (really, she doesn’t watch TV, really lol).  Then she wanted to write all the other names she know only names aren’t usually phonetic so it was….interesting.  I got the carpet from Walmart.  I wanted one with stripes for lining the letters on.  She did need a lot of help with this activity.


Later on she played with the Discovery Toys Motor Works.  I didn’t think she’d be able to do it but she figured it out with some help and took apart the car and air plane.  This is a great activity for promoting the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects, especially in girls.  This kept her busy for a long time.  It also got Daddy involved when he came home.

Number Activities

Pumpkin 1 can recognize her numbers to 10 and recently has started counting to 10 (she’s 27 months), but she’s only beginning to grasp the concept of counting objects and relating them to the number symbol.  These are two activities we’re working on.  They are still challenging for her and require my help but she is beginning to grasp the concept.  She may still be a little young for them, they’d be great for a 3 year old.

This first activity uses magnetic numbers and gems.  I put the numbers across the top and the child has to put the right amount of gems below.


The second activity is the opposite.  The objects to count are given and the child has to match the number.  These activity cards can be downloaded from Confessions of a Homeschooler along with tons of other great resources.  Using wood or plastic letters is great for toddlers since they can’t write yet.  It gives them the ability to learn things and do activities that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do


Pumpkin 1 is really into princesses and has to carry around the princess cards I made for her everywhere (as seen in the pictures).  It’s always a panic at bedtime when she has to have them to sleep with and we don’t know where she’s put them!

We’re doing a lot of counting at different times of the day, often when on the potty.  We count fingers, toes, toys, objects on clothing, pictures in books.  There’s always things around to count.

Math and Music

Pumpkin 1 knows the names of the numbers from 1-9, she doesn’t know how to count yet and doesn’t understand these numbers equal amounts of things except for 2.  When she has 2 of something she’ll say “2”.  To encourage her exploration of numbers I purchased this number pegboards http://toys.scholarschoice.ca/number-pegboards.html  I thought a long time about purchasing it but I’m so glad I did.  I only gave her the cards 1-4 with just the right amount of pegs to start with.  She’s pulled it out several times to play with.  Not only is she learning the concept of numbers, but exercising fine motor skills as well.


Pumpking 1 LOVES music.  She’s always singing and dancing.  Music is so important for learning and with winter coming, I want to work in more gross motor skills indoors.  So today I put on a cassette tape (yes, I still have some of those and a player) of Bollywood dance music.  We don’t have actual playsilks, though I’d love to purchase some from here https://www.etsy.com/shop/BeneathTheRowanTree, but we do have a few regular scarfs.  The kids use them for so many things – dress up, blankets, baby clothes, and today we used them for dancing.  Pumpkin and I waved them and also did a “follow the leader” type of dancing with them. She loved it and out danced me. Pumpkin 2 enjoyed watching all the activity.