Inside: Gingerbread counting mats perfect for helping preschoolers learn to count and work on their number sense.
Related: Preschool Christmas Activities
Gingerbread Counting Mats
After reading your favorite version of a gingerbread book during circle time, these counting mats make a perfect math center or small group math activity.
Run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me. I’m the gingerbread man.
After you print them, put these counting mats in a dry erase pocket or laminate them to help them last through the wear and tear of little hands.
Using Ten Frames
While we’re teaching children to learn to count, we want it to make sense. We want them to understand what three actually is — not just what comes after two. This is a big part of number sense.
We also want them to be able to look at a number and automatically recognize what that number is. That’s what we call subitizing. It’s a fancy word that means “to count by sight.” One of our favorite ways to teach subitizing is with ten frames. It’s also great to teach with dominoes and dice. We have an entire post that explains all about subitizing.
Related: Gingerbread Baby Christmas Ornament
When children use ten frames to count, they can learn that an entire ten frame has ten spaces, and that half of that has five. Then, you can expand it to two ten frames to help them learn to count to 20.
Encourage children to touch each object to help them understand one-to-one correspondence. This is a process that can take months (or quicker if they catch on to math really easily), so give it time and be patient. But once it sinks in, that child will be able to use this foundational math knowledge for the rest of their lives.
That’s actually one of my favorite parts about teaching preschoolers. We are teaching them life lessons in these early years. And as someone who has older children myself, I can see what happens when we really help children understand these important math skills and how it sets them up for success later on.
These super sweet and fun ten frames are a free gingerbread printable we’re offering to all of our awesome VIP subscribers. To grab a set of ten frames with the numbers 1-10, just fill out your information below and we’ll send it right over!
Your freebie will have two sets of gingerbread counting mats. The first set is for children who are just learning to count. The gingerbread men or babies (whichever you’re teaching about) will already be in the ten frame with the correct number. First, show the child how to count to that number by slowly touching each gingerbread baby. Then, have the child do it after you so that you can assess any areas that they might need help with, whether it’s counting or following their finger. Or just going too quickly.
On the build it section, use any type of math manipulative for this. It could be LEGO Duplos, LEGO bricks, links, snap cubes, etc. Whatever you have on hand or anything that your little learner loves will do just fine! Have the child build vertically or horizontally to create that number. Feel free to let them use sets or to make patterns. Whatever makes their heart happy to learn about math.
There is also a number line on the ten frame counting mat where the correct number will be marked. This is a great way to reinforce that this number has significance. It is not just a number we’re talking about! It has a special spot on the number line, and there is a value assigned to it.
On the “Make it or Write it” section, this is a great way to make the number with dice or dominoes. If your little learner already loves writing numbers, feel free to have them write it in. If the child needs extra support in handwriting, I would probably hold off on this. We want to focus on number sense, not handwriting. It’s important not to introduce too many skills at once because that can quickly overwhelm or frustrate a child. I’ll be making some number cards to work on handwriting soon so that you can focus on that, too!
Pre-K Counting Mats
The second set, or pre-K version of these gingerbread counting mats, is slightly harder. If a child breezes through the first set, which I’ll call the preschool counting mats, then they’re ready for this next set. This is really more about skills and less about age though.
The pre-K ten frames are left open for your student or child to fill in with any manipulative that you have around. These are perfect for mini erasers, gems, pom poms, and the like. I personally love something that I can grab real fast that’s already in your classroom or house.
The second set of counting mats is also more advanced on the number line. Have your little learner circle the correct number. I make these into a dry erase surface by laminating them or putting them in a dry erase pocket.
And there you have it — math made fun!
These gingerbread printable free counting mats teach number sense up to 10. If you absolutely love them and want more, I also have a set that goes up to 20 in my shop. And don’t forget to grab your freebie by filling out the form above!