Christmas and counting go hand in hand! How many days until Santa comes? How many presents under the tree? How many candy canes upon its branches? I could go on!
Play Dough Christmas Tree Counting Mats for Numbers 1-10 feature each number, the number word, a large printed numeral, and a blank ten frame.
Wow! That’s a TON of learning activities in one simple number mat! Which is great because I’m a big fan of simple activities that cover lots of skills!
Value of Counting Mats for Kindergarten
Any Christmas tree math activity certainly catches the eyes of young learners during a hectic time of year. However, this ten frame printable allows students to develop number sense in meaningful ways.
Unlike other math worksheets that often isolate a skill, ten frame mats are very open-ended. Students must identify the numeral, create the numeral and count the objects, read the number word, and “see” the number in relation to others on the ten frame.
Introducing ten frames early on in a child’s math instruction helps them to understand the value of a number. One is less than three, or five is half of ten, or the same number can be grouped in many different ways.
Ten frames also encourage subitizing, or the ability to recognize a group of dots/manipulatives as a certain number without counting. That is an advanced skill that develops over time with plenty of practice using dice, ten frames, and subitizing cards.
To Prepare the Christmas Tree Play Dough Mats:
- Download and print the mats below.
- Laminate for durability or insert into a sturdy page protector.
- Choose your favorite play dough.
- Christmas-themed manipulatives (erasers, lights, pompoms, counting chips, etc.)
To use the Christmas Tree Play Dough Mats:
First, students must identify the number they are working with. You can scaffold learning by presenting the mats in order or out of order, depending on the skill level of the child.
Form the numbers with the play dough by ‘tracing’ the bubble numbers on the right side.
Place objects, or play dough balls, onto the ten frame template to fill the correct number of squares.
Spell the number words aloud for practice. You can also use dry erase markers or erasable markers to trace each number word.
Finally, decorate the Christmas tree with the correct number of play dough ornaments, mini lights, or erasers.
To extend the activity:
This basic counting activity can easily be adapted to tackle more advanced numbers and skills:
- Turn each free printable mat into a teen number by placing a play dough “1” in front of every numeral. Then, fill up the ten frame with the digit in the ones place. Practice saying, “13 is one TEN and 3 ONES! 11 is one TEN and 1 ONE!, etc.”
- Create fact families by filling the ten frame with two different objects (or two different colors). For example, on the “8” mat, you can fill it with 2 red counters and 6 green, or 4 of each, etc.
- Extend the fact family by adding oral addition sentences (ie., 2+6=8, 4+4=8)
- Use the ten frame worksheet to explore addition and subtraction, too!
Use these counting mats for preschool, too! Younger learners will be more focused on recognizing the numerals and counting the objects.
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