Printable craft-stick numbers! Because any excuse to eat something cool on a hot day is welcome. Whether you need something simple and effective for learning stations or want to take the noise-level down a notch at meal times, this download will work for you. It is designed to be printed two-sided as a “mat” or re-usable worksheet.
Four-Step Learning Focus
There are four sections to these learning mats, taking learners through a natural numbers-learning progression. Early-childhood education and play are meant to turn practice into memory and eventually skills, so these mats follow a logical muscle-development progression. Generally, motor skills develop from the trunk of the body out, so this printable pack focuses on moving learners through finer and finer motor skills practice.
1. Constructing Numerals
Research often hints at what you probably already know. Practice is how we improve. Athletes especially know that regular, focused muscular practice eventually results in muscle memory (which is both physical and mental). And, this is true for kids, too!
In the first step, kids use beginning pincer muscles to manipulate craft sticks to form numerals. While this may seem silly to adults, little kids love to “build” things and then show them off.
We love ten-frames! If you haven’t been introduced to them yet, they’re really just boxes that introduce pre-math skills to little learners. You’ll see that the next section of the mat is, in fact, a literal counting box. But, before you say, “So what?” Know that ten frames are the kind of “sneaky” learning that teachers and homeschoolers love–they teach through activity.
Essentially, by letting learners “play” with sets of five and ten, you help them conceptualize addition and subtraction. Another way to frame it (ha, see what we did there) is to think about how many addition and subtraction problems you could make with just the number ten. You could probably scribble for a few minutes with all the different problems you could create. Ten-frames physically imply this kind of thinking in preparation for first-grade math and beyond.
Making sure not to use any potential choking hazards and keeping in mind what your kids are ready for physically, you can use tons of fun and personalizable things with ten frames. If you’re at the table, try things that may be safe and handy, such as small crackers, cereal, or even peas! In school environments, kids may be able to find their own favorite things, such as figurines, small toys, and so on. We used fruit snacks here because it was snack time.
3. Learning and Practicing Numeral Formation
We can’t always find fonts or clipart to match all the different styles of number formation. So, if we missed your favorite way to form a one, four, eight, or nine, we’re so sorry. If we ever find what we need to create mats the other ways, we’ll be sure to update them. In this section, learners simply practice forming numerals with their fingers then with a writing implement.
4. Learning and Practicing Letter Formation (to spell numbers as words)
Here learners are exposed to numbers-as-words while practicing letter formation. If we didn’t use your favorite way to make a specific letter, our apologies! We’re limited by the fonts and clipart out there, but we’ll update the mats when we find other options.
What You’ll Need for Printable Craft-Stick Numbers
We recommend printing these printable craft-stick numbers pages double-sided. After printing, you may need either a touch of lead-time or a little help to prepare some “half-size” craft sticks; although, you won’t need any extra time if you purchase the “mini” sticks from the store.
If you want to prepare all the mats and sticks at once, you’ll need:
- 12 (twelve) full-size craft sticks
- 27 (twenty-seven) “mini” or “half-size” craft sticks (can make instead of buy–see below)
If you want to just do one mat at a time, the maximum number of sticks you would need to complete any given mat in the pack is:
- 2 (two) full-size craft sticks
- 6 (six) “mini” or “half-size” craft sticks
Don’t have mini sticks? Never fear. You can literally snap the sticks from your favorite iced dessert in half or cut them with a pair of house/school scissors for a smoother edge. Be warned, though, that once you teach kids to “snap” things on purpose, they’ll be snapping sticks and all sort of things for a while. If you prefer, you can also buy mini-sticks at your favorite craft store. They’re adorable.
Ideas for Using the Printable Craft-Stick Numbers Printable
We printed these in black-and-white so that any color that your learners utilize will pop. And also because lots of us don’t have all the color-printing budget.
This printable craft-stick numbers pack is perfect for morning baskets, learning stations, dinner table place mats, and so much more–you’ll love that these numbers mats grow with your kids. To use and re-use, try lamination, placing a mat in a clear sheet protector and using a dry erase marker, or even some inexpensive contact paper. I’m partial to putting them in cheap sheet protectors because then I can rotate them in and out of a binder as needed.