We purchased a Discovery/Tactile Box this summer and I foresee it getting a lot of use. It seems that when there is a "mystery" involved, the children really keep their interest. For our math activity today I pulled out the tactile numbers 1-5 and our geometric shapes. We talked about each of the numbers, stating their name, feeling them and did the same with a sphere, cone, pyramid, cube and a cylinder. Then we put the numbers on one side of the box and I placed a certain number of a shape (ex: 3 pyramids) in the other side. The children reached in and counted the shapes (pulling them out to check their work) and then reached into the other side to find the corresponding tactile number. This is more challenging then one would think! The main reason why I did this activity was to get a good sense of what the numbers felt like. I find that they can be more successful in recognizing and writing numbers if they have a good sense of how they feel instead of just remember how they look. Of course, we talked about how they were made (sticks/curves) and sang the numeral formation verse to go with each number.
At the dollar store this summer, I found foam alphabet/number mini mats. Well, since we have the large foam alphabet mats I thought they'd get a kick out of these mini ones. I can see them being used for various activities this year also. Today our goal was to explore with the letters and place them in alphabetical order. Well, the children are not ready to do that on their own so I put the mat abc order and let them put the letters in. I encouraged conversation about the letters (name, sound, a word that begins with the sound, formation) as they were working. A nice little addition to our alphabet activities.