Last winter, we started using Snowball Number Mats with our preschoolers to reinforce counting, number recognition and subitizing. Some of our students loved them (of course!) but many students just moved right past the center. We had to find a way to jazz it up a bit. The same is true with these Apple Counting Mats. A simple mat with pieces is not going to be enough to draw in our preschoolers. But… when we bury the apples and pieces in scented rice… boom! They can’t keep their hands out of it.
To set up this invitation to play, we put 2 Apple Counting Mats together with a tub of red rice that we scented with a drop of cinnamon essential oil.
We added small rubber apple pieces out of another game and buried the corresponding counting pieces in the rice as well. Our preschoolers love to dig and get their hands in any sensory bin! We usually have rice in our big red sensory table, so having it in smaller boxes is new and exciting.
As soon as they got their hands in the rice they noticed the smell too. I love to listen to them talking to each other and trying to figure things out. One little guy said, “It smells like Christmas,” and his buddy said, “No, it’s cimmanim!”
The wonderful thing about this center is that it meets the needs of many different students. We had a few who just wanted to sit and run their hands through the rice. The felt it between their fingers and rubbed it on the backs of their hands.
Some other students sat and counted all the rubber apple pieces, and a few others used those pieces to match the counting spaces on the mats.
Others went a step farther and pulled the apple cards out of the rice and sorted them onto the two mats. I was able to quickly assess their number knowledge through 6. (We had 3 stations set up, each with 2 number mats.) Isn’t it the best when we can combine sensory learning and early math skills?!
The Apple Counting Mats are available here:
Follow this Pinterest Board for lots more counting and number senses ideas for your preschoolers:
Subscribe to receive a FREE dramatic play printable set, as well as our latest content by email.