Mealtimes at my house are often a noise-fest. Oh, and did I mention multitasking? If you’re like me and need to restore some order to either your school or meal routines, check out these deceptively simple Spanish numbers craft stick mats. Already got some awesome place mats or don’t want school at your table? These also work well for independent play, morning baskets, Montessori mats, and more!
Four-Step Learning Focus
There are four clear components of these learning mats, which are designed to take learners through a normal numbers-learning progression. Moreover, since early education and play are designed to turn practice into memory and eventually skills, these mats follow a logical progression for muscle-development. In children, motor skills develop from the trunk out, so this download focuses on moving learners through finer and finer motor skills practice.
1. Constructing Numerals
Research regularly affirms what you probably already knew. Practice makes better and better. And regular, focused practice with muscles eventually results in muscle memory (which is both physical and mental). This is true for kids, too! In the first step on these mats, 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.
Do you love ten frames as much as we do? If you haven’t been introduced to them yet, get ready for fun! The next section of the mat is a literal counting box where learners practice counting. But, before you say, “What’s the big deal?” Know that ten frames are the best kind of sneaky: Educational! These little boxes form pre-math skills. Essentially, by letting learners “play” with sets of five and ten, you help them conceptualize addition and subtraction. Think of it this way–how many addition and subtraction problems can you make with the number ten? A lot! And so can kids.
Being mindful of potential choking hazards and what your kids are ready for physically, there are tons of great things you can use. If you’re at the table, try things your littles may already be eating, such as small crackers, cereal, or even peas! In school (again, being mindful of potential choking hazards), 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 preferred way to form a one, four, eight, or nine, we’re apologize. When we find clipart that covers other ways, we’ll be sure to update these mats. In this section, learners form numerals with their fingers then with a writing implement.
4. Learning and Practicing Letter Formation (to spell numbers as words)
Here learners practice numbers-as-words while learning letter formation. If we didn’t cover your favorite way to make a certain letter, we’re sorry. We’re limited by the fonts and clipart out there, but we’ll update as soon as we find new options.
What You’ll Need
We recommend printing these double-sided. After printing, you’ll 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 (palitos de madera)
- 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 Use
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 pack is perfect for morning baskets, learning stations, dinner table place mats, and so much more–you’ll love that these Spanish 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.