This week the #TeachECE Early Childhood Team is sharing activity suggestions for exploring the numbers 6-10. If you are new to The Preschool Toolbox and missed the article on how to establish REAL relationships with the numbers 1-5, you can see it here! We use many activities to explore numbers and integrate basic math concepts throughout our preschool days. The Candy Cane Counting Sticks are just one way to combine playful learning and fine motor skills into a seasonal math activity that is also FUN!

## Candy Cane Counting Sticks for Preschool! Free Printable Candy Cane Counting Sticks Toppers – Candy Cane Counting Stick Toppers

Materials needed: Wikki Stix (at least 10 per child), Candy Cane Counting Stick Toppers (linked above), pony beads (red/white), scissors, and markers/crayons (for labeling the candy cane template). *Note: please supervise young children who still mouth objects closely as pony beads are a choking hazard. *

**Prior to playing the math games**: Print the Candy Cane toppers to heavy paper. Have the children cut out the candy canes (assist younger children with cutting) and laminate for durability. The Candy Cane toppers will adhere to the Wikki Stix (no glue will be necessary).

**5 Math Game Suggestions for the Wikki Stix Candy Cane Counting Sticks: **

**1.**One-to-One Correspondence: Label the Candy Cane toppers with any numbers the children have had introduced and put them on top of a Wikki Stix. Ask the children to place the corresponding number of pony beads on the Wikki Stix.

**2.** Number Order: Label 5 of the Candy Cane toppers with the numbers 6-10 and put them on top of the Wikki Stix. Have the children place the candy canes in the correct number order – 6-10.

** Variation:** Label the Candy Cane toppers with the numbers 1-10 and place the candy canes on top of a Wikki Stix. Have the children place the candy canes in the correct number order (starting at a number OTHER than 1).

**3.** Ten Sticks and Skip Counting: Label 10 Candy Cane toppers with the number 10 and put the printable toppers on Wikki Stix. Have the children place 10 pony beads on each of the Wikki Stix. These counting sticks make great “10 bars” for counting to 100 by 10’s. For younger children, label the Candy Cane toppers with various numbers for practice with skip counting by 2’s and 5’s.

**4**. Number Words: Write number words on the Candy Cane toppers and put on top of a Wikki Stix. Have the children place the corresponding number of beads on their Candy Canes. It helps the children understand that the **number name** refers to a specific quantity of beads.

**5.** Patterning: Write any basic pattern on the Candy Cane toppers (for example: write AB on one of the Candy Canes. The children must then choose two colors of pony beads [the first chosen color is “A”; the second chosen color is “B”] and alternate the colors when placing them on the Wikki Stix.) The picture above shows a simple AB pattern (2 colors) on each of the Candy Cane counting sticks.

**Hint:** Print the Candy Cane toppers and laminate before cutting out. Dry erase markers can then be used to change the numbers/activities as the children gain confidence and activities are exchanged throughout the season.

Come visit our CHRISTMAS or GINGERBREAD THEMATIC UNITS to learn through play this holiday season!

**For MORE ways to play and encourage INTUITIVE MATH skills in preschool, please see:**

5 and 10 Frame Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten

Intuitive Math – Greater Than, Less Than or Equal To

CANDY CANE and Playdough Math Ideas for Preschool and Kindergarten

**For other creative ways to encourage math skills through playful learning, visit the wonderful suggestions by the Early Childhood Educational Team below:**

How can I teach numbers 6-10 and Writing? by The Educators’ Spin On It

Fine Motor Number Building Challenge by Fun-A-Day

Turkey Counting Rhyme by Growing Book by Book

Acorn and Squirrel Clip Cards by Rainy Day Mum

Numbers Prewriting Activity by Tiny Tots Adventures

Free Printable Counting Game by Life Over C’s

Cerys says

This is such a fun way – we don’t have wikistixx but I’m sure that our beads and rods will work just as well.

Natasha says

You know I love dry erase. Great activity that I can do with both of my girls. We don’t have Wikistixx but we have pipe cleaners and beads.

Jodie @ Growing Book by Book says

I love this idea. We will be adding this to our plans in December.