Sort and Count Maths Bottles

Use old bottles and pom poms for simple counting and sorting maths games and motor skills fun! With lots of ways to play and learn, these are a great addition to the maths area at home or school.
Welcome to another Playful Maths activity, part of a series being co-hosted with Learn with Play at Home each week. We aim to provide simple, engaging and completely play-based ways to practise maths skills with young children, using everyday materials. See our Pinterest board of ideas here!

This week we are looking at ways to re-use plastic bottles in maths play. I took four 1 litre sized water bottles and cut a simple hole near the bottom of each, leaving a little lip so that pom poms wouldn’t fall out when dropped in. Then I painted a thin band of colour around each one, using acrylic paint which adheres well to plastic. You could also just tie around a coloured pipe cleaner, or a strip of coloured paper.

Using a dry-wipe pen, I wrote a number on the front of each one and then simply set out a large basket filled with pom poms in the corresponding colours to the bottles, as an Invitation to Play. No real explanation was needed and they were excited to have a go (not so excited about having to take turns!) When it was time to write new numbers, the pen easily wiped off with a dry cloth and the bottles can be re-used indefinitely. 
Cakie recognised all numbers 1-10 easily, and  was able to count out the correct number to add to each bottle, but needed reminding occasionally to move the pom poms using 1:1 correspondence instead of simply pointing at them. We then moved onto the numbers up to 20 to increase the challenge. With some of the smaller groups we went on to combining the contents of the bottles to find the totals, a little like our recent addition machine activity.
Pop enjoyed this activity at her own stage of development and was able to sort and match the pom poms by colour to the correct bottles. She recognised a few of the smaller numbers and was able to count out some smaller amounts. It served as great motor skill practise for her and concentration to be able to fit the small parts through the narrow bottle opening, all of which are great pre-writing skills too!

 

What they are learning while they play:

maths: recognising numerals, counting using 1:1 correspondence, sorting and matching by colour, counting up to 10 and beyond
motor skills: using control and precision to pick up and drop small materials, pincer grasp, hand/eye co-ordination

Pop: 2.11

Cakie: 4.6

Bean: 12 mos

Join us both every Friday for our continuing series about Playful Maths ideas.

Pop on over to Learn with Play at Home to see her scooping and measuring with plastic bottle tools.

 Here’s our post about exploring capacity with coloured water.

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27 comments to Sort and Count Maths Bottles

  • Awesome! I love it. Will be having a go with these too! x

  • What a fun idea to do with stuff you have around the house anyway!

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  • This is absolutely fabulous! I’ve pinned it and made a note to do it once we’ve managed to nab enough milk bottles.

  • I used opaque milk bottles ( because that was all I had) and plasticine balls ( again, all I had) and my one year old especially enjoyed looking into the bottles to see what was there. Great ideas!!

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  • will try it for sure

  • This is a great way to increase the kid’s interest on maths, entertaining stuffs always can remember.

  • This is great idea, my son is struggling a bit with his addition at school, we’ve e trying to find different ways but keeping it fun at the same time i will give this a try.

  • Marion

    Please tell me what the purpose is for the hole cut near the bottom of each bottle! I’m not sure why I need to do that. Is it to get the pom poms out of the bottles after the child is finished, or can they be retrieved from the top?

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