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.
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
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.
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.
He loved counting out the pinecones to place on each page!
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.
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.
- Secrets of Winter
- The Pine Tree Parable
- The Pinecone Walk
- The Pinecone Problem
- The Legend of the Three Trees
- Penguin and Pinecone