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Preschool maths with beads activity

by Ünal Güler

This math counting beads activity is a great way to teach math. Kids of all ages, especially toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school age kids will have a blast with this math counting beads activity. The activity is easy to put together, budget-friendly, and a fun way to learn math. Plus, this math-counting-beads activity is great for fine motor skills too!

Preschool math with beads

Counting Beads Math Activity.

Preschoolers often learn how to count before they can actually recognize the actual number being written. And to learn the numbers and recognize quantities, let’s use this math activity on counting beads. It’s easy, fun, plus they can train their fine motor skills and explore colors!

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Materials needed for this math counting beads activity

You only need a few materials for the math counting beads activity like: paper, glue, markers, pipe cleaners, beads.
You only need a few materials like: paper, glue, markers, pipe cleaners, beads.

How to put together your math counting beads activity

Step 1

Take your pipe cleaners and stick paper of the appropriate color on them.

step 2

Use your marker and write a number on it.

step 3

Put all the beads in a bowl so your child can easily reach them.

Counting Beads Math Activity - Child sits at table with pipe cleaners and beads on table
Time for some counting fun!

And now it’s time to learn to count!

Our experience with this math counting beads activity

My daughter is like that. She can easily count to 20 but struggles when I point to an 8 and ask her to tell me what number it is – we haven’t even started to recognize written word numbers yet.

So I looked for fun ways she could learn to relate her counting skills to actual numbers. And what better way to do that than with an interactive game of beads and pipe cleaners? This project is super easy and inexpensive to implement.

All you need is some pipe cleaners, construction paper, glue, a marker and beads. I cut strips of construction paper and wrote a number from 1 to 10 on each one. I wrapped the construction paper around the pipe cleaner and attached it to the pipe cleaner with a glue stick. Then I gave my daughter a mug of beads. “Yay, pearls!” she said. We did something similar and learned fruit loop patterns – beads were cleaner and better for you! I told her to start with number 1 and thread a bead onto the pipe cleaner.

Math Counting Beads Activity - Girl with orange pipe cleaner and blue bead
Put the beads on the pipe cleaners.

Then I asked her what number comes after 1?


So I asked her to string two beads onto the nearest pipe cleaner and showed her the flag with the number 2 on that pipe cleaner. I explained it to her with the first numbers. Then she understood and started saying the next number and pointing to the flag all by herself! She had a lot of fun counting the beads and threading them onto the pipe cleaners.

Math Counting Beads Activity - Thread beads onto pipe cleaner

Before I gave her this project to work on, I had a fleeting thought about how picky she is about some things. I wondered if she might try to match the beads to the pipe cleaner color and get annoyed if I didn’t have enough beads of a certain color for her. I came to the conclusion that she certainly wasn’t as compulsive as I was to even think of something that stupid!

I was right… and wrong. She Is obsessively, but in a completely opposite way than me. Instead of matching the bead color to the pipe cleaner color, she actively made sure there were some no matching beads the color of the pipe cleaner they were carrying and actually reset beads when she snagged one that matched! It was fun watching her work!

My 3 year old had a blast doing math with pipe cleaners and beads. It definitely helped her see how counting relates to the corresponding numbers.


  • Paper

  • glue or tape

  • markings

  • pipe cleaners

  • beads


  1. Take your pipe cleaners and stick paper of the appropriate color on them.
  2. Use your marker and write a number on it.
  3. Put all the beads in a bowl so your child can easily reach them.

More math activities on the Kids Activities Blog

What do you think of this math activity for counting beads?

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