Spindle box


  • Age: 2-4.5
  • Objective: Understanding the uniform growth in quantity while counting.
  • Method: Count one object into your dominant hand and name the quantity. Place the amount in a container labeled “1”. Repeat with integers up to 9. If the child has been introduced to the concept of 0 already, emphasize how the 0 jar is “empty.” To put the work away repeat the counting process (from one hand to the other) from 1 to 9.
  • Materials: 45 cylindrical objects of the same size (pens, pencils, sticks, markers, etc.) 10 jars or small boxes labeled 0-9.
  • Link:

Sandpaper numbers

  • Age: 3-6
  • Objective: Practice the correct formation of numerals 0-9.
  • Method: Trace the number correctly with your first two fingers while saying the name of the number. Emphasize the starting point of each new line, and pause at the end of the number, or ending point of each line. (For example, the number 2 has one continuous line, with a starting point at the top left. In contrast, the number 4 has two lines, with starting points at the top left and then the top right.)
  • Materials: These numbers can be made on card stock with strong glue and sand, or on card stock with bubble paint. It must be a sensory guide as well as a visual guide.
  • Link: (only need to go to 9)

Cards and Counters


  • Age: 4-5
  • Objective: Solidify the link between number quantity and number symbol.
  • Method: Lay out numbers from 0-9 in a line. Count out one object and place it under the symbol card for 1. Repeat with the counters and cards for the other quantities. Lay quantities in pairs. At a later date (after the child can do this work well) introduce the odd-even pattern that is especially visible when the counters are laid out in pairs.
  • Materials: Cards with numerals 0-9, small objects of the same size (buttons are ideal).
  • Link:

  • Age: 4-7
  • Objective: Understand the sequence of numbers from 1 to 100, and start to notice the patterns therein.
  • Method: Begin by dumping out all the numbers (or just from 1-50 at first) and sorting them into groups of tens. Lay out the row of numbers from 1-10, followed by 11-20, etc.
    • Options for follow-up work: Record (write) the work. Only lay out odd or even numbers. Lay out only multiples of 10. Fill it in backwards. Make a pattern and explain it. See how far you can count without checking on the board. Any other game you can think of.
  • Materials: Small square cards with numbers 1 to 100 on them. A 10x10 grid of squares of the same size (or slightly larger) on which to place the cards.
  • Link:

Hundred board

  • Age: 5-6
  • Objective: Understand and practice forming the symbols of numbers into the 1000s.
  • Method: Introduce the terminology for units, tens, hundreds, and thousands. Use the cards to show how numbers can be stacked: 4721 can be made with the cards 4000, 700, 20, and 1. Practice saying the names of the numbers (eg. “four thousand seven hundred twenty-one,” remember not to use the word “and” in the middle of your number!)
  • Materials: Card stock cards of 4 different sizes with numbers written on them. Units and thousands should be in green ink, tens in blue ink, and hundreds in red ink.
  • Link: