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Make math time happy with these fun counting activities. #1: Create your own abacus. #2: Count and play all day! These activity ideas provide a playful introduction to counting and the many ways that we encounter and use math in everyday life.

Count on It

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Count on It

Image of the toilet paper rolls needed for this activity that makes learning math fun.


  • A long piece of string, a rope, or a tension rod        
  • Several empty paper towel rolls/toilet paper rolls
  • Scissors
  • Tape
Image of sections of toilet paper rolls on a wooden dowel to construct a DIY abacus and make learning math fun.


  • Create a DIY abacus by cutting paper towel/toilet paper rolls into 10 segments.
  • String the 10 segments onto your piece of rope, string, or rod.
  • Attach either end to something solid (e.g. abacus two chairs or the wall). 
  • You can continuously adjust the number of segments that you use to appropriately challenge and meet your little one where they are.
An image of a real abacus with a child's finger touching it while counting and making learning math fun.


  • Practice sliding each segment from one side to the other. You may count the sections out loud, or not.
  • Use your “abacus” to visually represent numerical quantities. Some ideas include:

    • How many pancakes do you want?
    • How old are you?
    • We are leaving in five minutes.
    • How many napkins will we need to set the table for dinner?

Play your way! What else can you do with your new abacus?

Why Play This Way?

Raise your hand if you grew up disliking math? (Hopefully not everyone). We believe that when very young children encounter opportunities to experience and learn about math through play, they will recognize that puzzling through mathematical challenges is fun and rewarding. Specifically, we love that this tool can make transition times smoother by providing a visual representation of time.

Better with a Book

At LᐧMᐧNᐧOᐧPlay!, we love to pair our play with a great book.

This is just the tip of the iceberg! If you liked this activity, you’ll LOVE our Book Club.
Discover special books and bring them to life with activities that make meaningful connections between reading and playing. 

join the book club!

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