Magnetic Tile Color Sorting & Counting Activity
Magna Tiles are one of the most played with toys in our house. Our 4 1/2 year old loves building with them, and our 1 year old loves when we construct things for him to take apart! So, as I’m working on coming up with fun learning activities for Cam, I love thinking about what toys he loves, and then using those to create new activities and ways to play. It turns out Magna Tiles are perfect for color sorting, counting and fine motor skill practice (which is also a pre-writing skill). Let’s do some Magnetic Tile Color Sorting and Counting!
I had my preschooler gather the materials, by asking him to go get his storage bin of Magna Tiles and his container of colored dinosaur counters. You can also prep ahead if you feel like that’s too much of a distraction for them!
You’ll want to gather:
- magnetic tiles (ours are all Magna Tiles or PicassoTiles)
- colored counters, like these dinosaur ones, or colored pom poms (or any colored counting object)
- fine motor tongs or tweezers (my tongs matched all the colors, but that’s absolutely not necessary)
Step 1: Building the Boxes
Have your child find 5 square tiles in red, yellow, purple, blue, green and yellow. Then ask them to build a box with no top with each color.
Step 2: Sorting by Color
Pour the colored counters out in the middle for easy access. Make sure you have different numbers of each color, or a specific number (i.e. 10 of each for practicing counting to 10) of each color.
Then have your child use the colored tongs to sort out all of the colored counters into their correct boxes.
When they’re all done, count how many are in each box. You can do this a couple of different ways. You can just pluck the counters out with your fingers – or dump them – and count them. Or you can have your child use the tongs to pick them out and count one by one. Either way is fine, but remember to watch your child for cues. I found that Cam’s hands got pretty tired from the tongs and he needed a break.
Activity 2: Counting Practice
Now make a circle with the 6 boxes. Dump the colored counters in the middle. On little paper squares, write different numbers – we’re working on 10-20 so our numbers were in the teens. Place one number in front of each colored box.
Let your child use the tongs or grabbers to add that many counters to each box. Camden chose to keep the same colored counters in the same colored boxes, but that’s a choice you can hand over to the kids. Letting them make some of their own choices makes them even more invested in the activity.
After we finished counting to the displayed numbers, it was Cam’s turn to take the lead. He decided the dinosaurs were living in little square apartments and he needed to stack their building. So he took the colored boxes full of dinosaurs and stacked them up. Then he smashed the whole building down!
When you finish the activity, make sure you leave time for child-led free play. That helps keep them invested and interested, because they did what you asked, but as they did, it definitely sparked some ideas and curiosities of their own.
My other advice: when it’s their turn to take the lead, play with them. Even if it’s just 5 minutes, and then you say, “Okay, you can keep playing, and I’m going to..,” it matters. Letting them know that their ideas are important enough for you to engage with as well is such an important piece of the learning puzzle.
Add a Book
I try to follow up or preface most activities or sets of activities with a book. Literature is so important, and the more we connect books to our experiences, the more our kids understand the importance and relevance.
This book, Clever Colors, is a big time favorite in our house, and it is perfect for this activity. It’s HUGE, and every two page spread is full of objects in one color. The side asks them to find things like 1 giraffe, 3 buses, etc.
When Cam was little, we just let him pick a color and then named objects as he pointed to them. As he got a little older, I asked him to point to the bird, the donut, etc. And now he’s old enough to help me read ‘5 hats’ and then find and count those hats.
This Magnetic Tile Color Sorting & Counting activity focused on:
- fine motor skills (building, tongs)
- color recognition
- sorting skills
If you enjoyed this activity, make sure you check out my Mouse Paint Color Mixing activity with magnetic tiles!
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