While hunting for resources in poundland, I came across some heart beads. Though they were being sold as table decorations for Valentine’s day, my mind immediately jumped to the Pre-school children and all the possible ways these hearts could be used in our activities.
With Valentine’s day in mind, I started off with a simple activity. Using pink and black card, I cut out different sized hearts and stuck them down in a variety of formations.
I used metallic pens to decorate the hearts. I created patterns, ordered the hearts by size, added numbers, letters and shapes to extend the children’s thinking and creativity in a number of learning areas. I then laminated these so they could be used again.
The activity proved popular among the children. Although a few of the boys showed interest and engaged in the activity, it was the girls who stayed at the table for longer amounts of time. Every child showed a different approach. One girl (aged 3) put a heart bead in each numbered heart, counting each one as she went up to ten. Another girl (aged 3) grouped the beads into the larger hearts and then counted how many were in each heart. The card with the letters on was a great one for a phonics activity, as one child placed beads onto each heart while saying the letter sound. One of the the boys (aged 3) collected the heart beads into a pot and pretended he was selling cherries, asking the other children to pay him if they wanted some.
At the end of the day, the beads were more popular than the cards (they ended up hidden all over the room, especially in the children’s drawers- no surprises there!). There are many ways I could use them again in the future, such as with sand, water, playdough, foam, weighing scales, and a light table just to name a few. Another way to gain the children’s interest would have been to ask them to decorate the hearts themselves before I laminated them. Children show pride in their own work and will have therefore enjoyed matching the beads to their own patterns.
So, if you’re looking for a fun, colourful maths resource, grab some beads or gems and create your own shape patterns. My activity was primarily aimed for Valentine’s day, but any shape or colour of beads can be used. Young children will love to group and investigate shiny little objects, the more colourful they are, the better. It’s also more fun to create your own cards and patterns, as you can choose exactly how you want them to look and aim them at areas your children are working on.