Counting with Pinecones – a Simple Toddler and Preschool Activity


I’m not a big fan of planning elaborate lessons to do with my toddler/preschooler. I’m a busy mom, and I just don’t have the time or energy to spend on some of the awesome looking learning activities for kids I see all over Pinterest and Facebook. (I simply look for ways to incorporate learning into our every day activities.) Last week, however, I was inspired during our daily trip to the neighborhood playground and decided to do a little nature learning by counting with pinecones.

Counting with Pinecones | an nature and number exploration activity for toddlers and preschoolers

Related: Best Books for Kids

Counting with Pinecones

I love the simplicity of this activity, yet because we don’t normally do “planned activities,” it was something special that we both enjoyed.

Step One: Collect Pinecones

Collecting Pinecones | Counting with Pinecones - an nature and number exploration activity for toddlers and preschoolers

We have a TON of pine trees in our neighborhood, and right now the ground is literally full of pinecones. We took a plastic grocery bag to the park with us and filled it up with lots of pinecones.

Step Two: Create Counting Pages

I decided to keep the activity short and sweet, to match my 2yo’s attention span, so I only used the numbers 1-5. You can go as high as you’d like, based on the ability and attention span of your child.

Counting with Pinecones | an nature and number exploration activity for toddlers and preschoolers

I wrote out the numbers 1-5 on individual sheets of construction paper, using both the written out number and digit to help with number recognition. Then I made circles on the paper to correspond with the number on the paper (i.e. one circle on the paper for the number “one”).

Step Three: Invite Your Child to Play and Explore

I grabbed a exploration tray and sorted out our pinecones and pine branches for Chris to explore and play with, and I invited him to use the pinecones to fill in the circles on the number papers.

Counting with Pinecones | an nature and number exploration activity for toddlers and preschoolers

He loved counting out the pinecones to place on each page!

Counting with Pinecones | an nature and number exploration activity for toddlers and preschoolers

Step Four: Practice Counting

After he filled in the circles with pinecones, I had Chris count the pinecones on the page to help reinforce counting objects.

Counting with Pinecones | an nature and number exploration activity for toddlers and preschoolers

He is still struggling with not counting some objects multiple times, but with a little help (i.e. my finger pointing to each object in turn), he’s able to count a group of objects up to about 20.

Books About Pinecones and Pine Trees

We had so much fun playing with and exploring the pinecones and pine branches, that I decided to look through our book collection and at the local library for some books about pinecones and pine trees to read together.

Books About Pinecones and Pine Trees

Counting with Pinecones | an nature and number exploration activity for toddlers and preschoolers