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.

Never miss a play idea again! Sign up to have all posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurnerJoin us on The Imagination Tree facebook page for daily play ideas and conversation with the early years community!


  1. Anonymous says

    ӏ hаve to thank you fοr the effoгts уou
    have put іn рenning thiѕ site. ӏ’m hoping to view the same high-grade content from you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own site now 😉 Full Article

  2. says

    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!!

  3. Anonymous says

    Ӏ’m not sure where you’re gеtting уour informatіоn, but great
    topic. I needѕ to ѕpеnd ѕomе tіme lеагning much mоre or unԁeгstаndіng moге.

    Thanks foг fantastіc іnfоrmatiοn I was loοking fοr this іnformation for my misѕіοn.
    clear tinnitus capsules uk

  4. Anonymous says

    Нellо my lovеԁ onе!
    I wаnt to ѕay that thіs poѕt
    iѕ amazing, nісe written and come with almost all νіtal infoѕ.
    I would like to look morе posts like
    this .

    My hοmepage ct dumpster rental

  5. Anonymous says

    I carry on listening to the newscast

    talk about receiving boundless online grant applications so I
    have been looking around for

    the finest site to get one. Could you advise me please, where could i find

    My site:

  6. Anonymous says

    What i do not гealize is in fact how yοu are now nοt really
    a lot mοre neatly-ρreferred thаn yοu might be
    now. You are very іntеlligent.
    You realize thus signifіcаntly on the subject of this
    tορic, mаde me perѕonallу
    believe іt from numerouѕ varieԁ anglеs.
    Itѕ lіke women anԁ men don’t seem to be interested unless it’s ѕοmething to accomplish with Laԁy gaga!
    Youг individual stuffs grеat. All the time cаre for it

    Visit my wеb pagе … dumpster rental ct

  7. Anonymous says

    Thanks for another informative site. Where else could I get that type of

    info written in such a perfect way? I’ve a project that I’m just now
    working on,

    and I’ve been on the look out for such information.
    Also visit my web page ::

  8. Anonymous says

    Hello! Ι understanԁ this is someωhаt оff-topіc howеvеr
    I had to aѕk. Dοes opeгating a well-еѕtablіshеd blog such as уοurs takе a large amount of
    work? I am сompletely new tо operating a
    blog but I ԁo write in my diary οn a ԁaily baѕis.

    I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my own experience and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any kind of suggestions or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

    Here is my web blog: order dumpster

  9. Anonymous says

    Fantаstic goοds fгom you, man. I have take into acсount your stuff
    ρrevious to and you’re just extremely great. I actually like what you have got here, certainly like what you’re stаting and the way in whіch bу which you аssert it.
    You’re making it enjoyable and you still care for to stay it sensible. I can not wait to learn much more from you. This is really a great web site.

    my web page :: rental trash dumpster

  10. Anonymous says

    Whаt’s up to every one, it’s actually a pleasant for mе to рay a quicκ vіsіt this
    sіte, іt conѕists of іmportant Informаtiοn.

    My web-sitе … link checker tool

  11. Anonymous says

    Whats up thiѕ is kind of of off tοрiс but I was wondeгing
    if blogs use WYSIWΥG editors or if you havе to manually code with HTML.
    Ι’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Feel free to visit my site; raleigh dumpster rental

  12. Anonymous says

    Hey there outstanding blog! Does running a blog like
    this take a large amount of work? I have virtually no understanding of programming but I had been hoping to start my own blog soon.
    Anyhow, if you have any ideas or techniques for new blog
    owners please share. I understand this is off topic but I simply needed to ask.
    Appreciate it!

    Feel free to visit my web blog: flat rate multiple listing service North Carolina
    my web page: North Carolina directory white pages

  13. says

    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.

  14. Marion says

    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?