Happy Valentine’s Day! If you already have beads and pipe cleaners, you can easily create more than Valentine crafts. With the free printables available online, you can create Montessori-inspired Valentine’s Day math activities that are fun for a holiday yet work on important skills for preschoolers and kindergarteners.
Bead-and-Pipe-Cleaner Addition Activity
Using printables from the free Valentine’s Day Unit by Musings of Me, it was simple to create a hands-on addition activity. I printed and cut out some hearts with the numbers 1-10 (I used a hole puncher to make to holes for the pipe cleaner) along with addition cards.
UPDATE: The printables from Musings of Me are no longer available, but you could substitute printables such as the Valentine Number Matchups from Confessions of a Homeschooler for the numbered hearts. Here’s an option for free valentine addition task cards by Runs on Coffee SPED at Teachers Pay Teachers.
For a school, it’s always best to laminate the printables. For a homeschool, you can simplify your preparation by using glossy photo paper without lamination unless an activity will receive a lot of use. I added beads, a pipe cleaner, salt shaker, containers for the beads, and a tray. The activity is actually a math extension of the Lacing Beads from Counting Coconuts.
Generally, this would be appropriate for ages 4½ and up although Montessori education is always individualized. An older child could write the answers on laminated addition cards with erasable markers or write out the problems and answers on another paper. A younger child who has an advanced understanding of numbers but the fine-motor coordination appropriate for his or her age could use the activity without any writing.
Bead-and-Pipe-Cleaner Counting Activity
Younger children could simply count beads to correspond to the number on each heart. This is a variation of an activity from Leptir, which is a variation of Montessori cards and counters. Most children are ages 4 and up before they’re comfortable matching quantity and symbol, but you can adjust the activity according to your child’s abilities.
For younger children who want to do the activity but wouldn’t be able to do it on their own, you could count the beads while your child pushes each bead onto the pipe cleaner. It’s important to have only 55 beads to coordinate with numbered hearts from 1-10. Having exactly 55 beads serves as a control of error by showing your child if he or she made a mistake when the number of beads isn’t correct at the end. The beads are all the same color to isolate the difficulty in counting rather than color.
Be creative in preparing activities that fit your child’s developmental level and needs. The exact tray or containers can vary according to what you have available. Just make your activity as attractive as possible and be sure to demonstrate how to use the activity, returning it to the shelf at the end of your demonstration.
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day – one that helps your child learn or reinforce skills and have fun at the same time!