Valentines Addition Activity

Last year, just before Valentines Day, I picked up a few loose parts in the shops. Included amongst them were some numbered miniature clothes pegs and some heart shaped confetti. I wasn’t quite sure what I had in mind, but they were all things I thought might come in useful for some Valentines themed activities. I wanted to share with you an addition activity I set out for T last year.

You will need:

  • Two sets of cards numbered 1-12
  • Numbered pegs
  • Heart confetti or an alternative counting manipulative
Two sets of number cards are laid out on the table - one red, one white. There is a bowl of numbered pegs and a plate of confetti. Two cards (three and five) are pegged together with peg number eight, and there are two columns of confetti laid out totalling eight.

At around this time last year, T was able to add two numbers together and would use her fingers to help her find a total. She was doing this quite naturally and often finding opportunities to do it in her play or in day to day life. I wanted to extend this a bit by challenging her to find totals which were more than ten. I created two sets of number cards from 1-12, and left them out with the pegs and the confetti. The idea with this addition activity that she would choose two number cards, count out the correct amount of confetti for each number, and then find the total.

Cards 7 and 4 are laid on the table, with confetti laid in column under each card. The confetti under card four is incomplete and a child's hand is pointing to the confetti to count.

One of the advantages of this type of activity is that T was in complete control of the numbers she chose to add together. This means she has full autonomy over the level of challenge, and could begin well inside her comfort zone and then challenge herself when she felt comfortable to do so.

Three sets of cards are pegged together on a dish: 7 and 4 with peg 11; 10 and 10 with peg 20; and 5 and 5 with peg 10.

Early on in the activity, T decided to add together five and five – not exactly a challenge, as that is often one of the first number facts children learn as they see it every day on their fingers! However this opened up a great conversation about ‘doubles’ which was a new concept for T. She spent the rest of the time finding more doubles! What had started as a simple addition game became the introduction to a completely new concept and not one that I had even considered when I set out the invitation. I love how children can come to an invitation like this and take it completely in their own direction.

What she is learning:

  • Addition
  • Doubling
  • Number recognition for high teens and twenties
  • Fine motor skills (picking up and laying out confetti; using pegs)

For more playful ways to teach maths, check out these other posts!

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