Make: Simple Winter Counting and Sorting Activities

Math is something that has never come easily to me, so in creating Montessori teaching tools, I look for things I would respond to – tactile, colorful items, games or a story.  I can quickly make lessons in math overly-complicated, so my main goal for this learning tool was to keep it simple with some sorting, counting and beginner math.

I have used felt for Montessori learning toys in the past and find it works well, so I grabbed some clothespins, cut up some strips and simple shapes and boom – in 5 minutes I had some adorable winter peg dolls and a bright little winter village.

Creating a set of these in multiple assorted colors gives you tons of options for learning through games or story-telling. With minimal supplies, you can easily create your own simple, ready-for-winter clothespin folk a set of colorful, cozy homes!

To make your own felt and peg doll winter counting game you’ll need:

  • Clothespins
  • Felt in assorted colors
  • Scissors
Discover 3 ways to explore sorting, counting and math from the same minimal supplies and simple template. | via barley & birch

For your bundled-up peg people, simply cut a 1/2″ strip of felt, tie around the “neck” of a clothespin, and cut 2-3 vertical lines up the middle of both ends of the felt “scarf”. That’s it! I then cut a simple house shape out of paper and used it as a template for my little sorting houses. No glue, no paint, no drying time – so you can have a full set finished in 10 minutes.

Discover 3 ways to explore sorting, counting and math from the same minimal supplies and simple template. | via barley & birch

Hands-on learning is not a kids-only sport. In fact, both sorting and math are both concepts that I *still* like to feel my way through – quite literally. In my previous work at art & design firms, I often physically grouped items by color, texture, etc. – or printed out a series of shapes to build simple 2-D models from.

When we sat down to create our winter counting and soring games, I didn’t have a grand plan but approached it as if I was playing a game myself. As we worked on the pieces & moved things around, more functions, approaches and possible games came to mind. Below are a few of the simple ideas I came up with for creating winter-themed sorting, counting, and math activities.

Discover 3 ways to explore sorting, counting and math from the same simple materials.

You can easily make a game out of sorting by color.

Discover 3 ways to explore sorting, counting and math from the same minimal supplies and simple template. | via barley & birch

Or cut and trace simple house shapes – building a math puzzle of sorts.

Discover 3 ways to explore sorting, counting and math from the same minimal supplies and simple template. | via barley & birch

And you’d be amazed how magic math feels when you draw a few snowflakes on a sheet of paper and set up a little winter village – adding and subtracting brightly-scarved peg doll tenants.

Once the playing begins, you may find that you’re learning more from observing and playing along than you ever would trying to lead! 😉

Simple ways to explore sorting, counting and math with toddlers and kinders. This easy Montessori inspired DIY uses felt and clothespins to make simple learning tools. | via barley & birch

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Amanda E.
With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.

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