Teach Preschool Numbers and Counting with Straws

Discover a fun way to teach preschool numbers and counting with straws and toilet paper tubes. Simple, hands-on activity for preschool math!

I noticed something the other day… we use a TON of toilet paper in my house! I had to go to the bathroom, and I was running from one bathroom to the next finding empty toilet paper rolls everywhere!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, considering we have 4 girls in the house but for some reason I was shocked. After the shock wore off I thought to myself, I can totally use those empty toilet paper rolls for something.

teach-counting-straws-1 Teach Preschool Numbers and Counting with Straws

I collected all the empty toilet paper rolls I could find in the house (it was a lot). As I was walking through the kitchen to put them down, I noticed a straw on the floor. The empty toilet paper rolls and straws could become a great activity for number recognition and counting objects!

I love when a plan comes together like that!

Teach Preschool Numbers and Counting

This Counting Straws Activity is SO easy to set up and put together.

It took me about 5 minutes, and most of that time was spent collecting the toilet paper rolls.  Grace had a great time with this activity and was playing with it for a good 20 minutes.

Ok, I know you’re excited to get started. So, here we go…

What You’ll Need

• Empty toilet paper rolls

• Straws

• A black sharpie marker

straw-counting-activity-supplies Teach Preschool Numbers and Counting with Straws

Directions

The very first thing I did was clean up the toilet paper rolls a little bit. They had a few pieces of toilet paper still stuck to them.

I took each roll and wrote a number on each roll 1 – 5. I started off with the numbers 1 – 5 to see how the activity would go.

Then, I stood the rolls up on Grace’s table in her playroom in order. I placed the straws on the table next to the rolls, and called Grace over to give her the directions.

I went over each number with her first before I let her get started. Then, I did the first one for her to show her how to complete the activity.

I pointed to the first toilet paper roll and asked her what the number was that was on it. She said the number 1. I then showed her I was going to put just one straw in the toilet paper roll to represent the number one.

After that first example she completed the rest on her own.

counting-with-straws Teach Preschool Numbers and Counting with Straws

How did my daughter do with this activity?

Grace really enjoyed this activity. She counted out the straws on the table before putting them in each toilet paper roll.

This made it easier for her to keep track of how many straws she was going to place in each roll. Once she was done with them all she played the activity a few more times.

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What do she learn during this activity?

  • Number recognition
  • Counting objects
  • Problem solving skills
  • Hand eye coordination
  • Fine motor skills
  • Following directions

teaching-counting-with-straws Teach Preschool Numbers and Counting with Straws

Extending this activity is so easy!

There are so many things that can be done to extend this fun and easy activity.

• You could have your child practice color sorting with this activity as well by having them use the same color straws in a toilet paper roll.

• You could have your child practice addition using the toilet paper rolls and straws. Write a number on one of the toilet paper rolls and place a few straws in it but less than the number written on the roll.  Then have your child place more straws into the toilet paper roll until they get to the number on the roll.

• You could have your child practice subtraction using the toilet paper rolls and straws. Write a number on one of the toilet paper rolls and place more straws then the number on the toilet paper roll in it.  Then have your child remove straws from the toilet paper roll until they get to the number on the roll.

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This activity was so fun and unbelievably easy to put together. Grace loved it, and we will definitely be collecting more toilet paper rolls around the house so we can continue this activity with even larger numbers.

Gather your empty toilet paper rolls today for some learning fun!

PRESCHOOL BOOKS ABOUT COUNTING

Fill your book basket with a great collection of counting books. Most of these books can be found at your local library or used bookstore.

If you have a hard time finding them, you can order them through my Amazon affiliate links by clicking the images below.

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Ten Black Dots – One dot can make a sun, two dots can make the eyes of a fox, and three dots can make a snowman’s face. And that’s just the beginning in this unique counting book!

Count the AnimalsThere are several types of puzzles in the book; some focus on counting a particular animal, some on a common attribute (i.e. all the animals with tails), while a number of puzzles ask you to count two sets of animals to see which outnumbers the other.

Curious George Counts From 1 to 100 – Curious George is a good little monkey, and always very curious. Now George is curious about numbers. Counting from 1 to 10 is easy, but can he count all the way to 100? George has picked the perfect day to try. It’s his town’s 100th birthday today and everyone is coming out to celebrate!


More Counting Fun

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