Want to teach number sense and counting to your preschooler this St. Patrick’s Day? You’ll love this super simple bead counting game for St. Patrick’s Day from Julie.
Counting with beads is a fun, hands-on way to support early math skills. Help your child build a rainbow for the pot of gold, and practice number recognition, too!
If you’re looking for more fun St. Patrick’s Day ideas, check out this list!
You probably have the materials for this activity around your house already. Here’s what you’ll need:
- one ball yellow play dough for the “pot of gold”
- one ball any color play dough for the card stand
- assorted color beads (affiliate link)
- dowels, wooden skewers, or straws (small enough to fit through the beads)
- number flash cards (affiliate link, or make your own on index cards!)
To set up this activity, you’ll need to make a “pot of gold” with the yellow play doh. I just made a ball and dug my thumbs in the middle to create a bowl shape. Then stick a few dowels or straws upright in the play dough.
Set a separate ball of play dough to the side to use as the stand for your number cards. Place the beads in a dish for easy access for little hands.
If you want to make your own play dough, here are my favorite tips on how to make homemade playdough.
Looking for more preschool counting activities? Check out this idea for fun with block counting!
You can use this simple set-up in tons of different ways. It just depends on what you want to teach your child!
We are working on recognizing numbers and connecting them with the values they represent. We played two different games with our pot of gold and rainbow activity.
Bead Counting Game #1
First, we started with the “1” card in the play dough stand. I showed my little guy how to add only one colored bead to each dowel. Then, we switched up the card to the number “2” flash card. My son then added one more bead to each dowel to make a total of two beads on each dowel.
We went up to five beads with this game, adding one bead to each color every time. I always ask him to point to the number and trace it with his finger to help him remember the numeral more easily.
When we were done with this game, we had counted each color up to five, and practiced identifying numerals up to five.
Easy and fun!
Bead Counting Game #2
For the next game we played, I wanted to give my little guy a little more free reign in his choices. This time, I picked a number flash card at random to place in the play dough stand.
Our first card was a 4. After we identified the 4 and traced it, I let him choose 4 beads of any color and place them on whichever dowel he chose. We repeated with another card and another.
I like this game because it reinforces the concept of “greater than and less than.” When he added five beads at a time, the dowels filled up more quickly than when he added just one bead at a time. He learned that five is greater than one!
If you love this activity, I know you’ll love this number puzzle scavenger hunt.
You could also easily use this counting with beads activity to teach more advanced addition and subtraction, create patterns, or sort colors. It’s so versatile!
I love having fun with holiday preschool activities, and this St. Patrick’s day pot of gold bead counting activity was so much fun!