Friday, September 2, 2011

DIY: Counting Boards with Sandpaper Numerals

I've had this idea in my head, and most of the materials in-hand, for a couple months now. I'm  not sure why I didn't start on it earlier, but I'm glad that I waited. Ty is just coming to a really sensitive period with numbers so this is just in time!

Several months ago, Ty wanted me to count everything for him, all the way up to the 60's and 70's. He then started touching each object to count to himself silently, as he didn't have many words and didn't even want to attempt a verbal try with numbers. In the last few weeks however, Tyler has absolutely exploded with language. The other day he took my hands and counted each of my fingers up to nine! I had never heard him utter a single number so this was a shock! Now he is counting objects and pictures in counting books up to ten and sometimes higher. He gets several numbers from 10-19 and understands if I say twenty one, twenty "two" and twenty "three" come next etc. and he will say them. He's really starting to show us what he knows with words, which is fun and rather amazing to us. Today he choose between two shirts and decided quickly upon a shirt with numbers on it, staring at the numbers for a long time, thinking. Here comes Mama to follow your lead, Ty!

So, on to the project...

What you'll need:

Woodsies Slats (or any other piece of board/wood)
Wooden Pegs
Drill / Dremel / Screwdriver
Numbers template (I used these)
Card stock
Sharp scissors

Now to create!:

Step One: Glue two Woodsies boards together to make a thicker board

Step Two: Print your numbers template and shrink them on a copier to fit your board if needed.

Step Three: Carefully cut-out the numbers

Step Four: Trace the numbers (backwards) on the the back of a piece of sandpaper and cut them out

Step Five: Cut squares from card stock to fit the numbers onto, leaving "white space" around each

Step Six: Glue numbers onto card stock and trace the outside of each number with a fine pen

Step Seven: Drill holes in each board to correspond with each number and be sure the pegs fit

Step Eight: Paint all sides of each Woodsie

Step Nine: Glue your numbers/card stock onto the Woodsie


If you would like to follow Montessori philosophy, I suggest using one color of card stock and one color of paint rather than making them too colorful. Varying colors may distract from learning.

After demonstration by the adult, the child's work is to:

1. Trace each number and say it's name
2. Place pegs into holes and count the pegs 

If your child is new to numbers, you may want to introduce the sandpaper numbers with a three period lesson first before adding the pegs and counting. I really feel that Ty is ready to do both at this point so I'm skipping that. If he doesn't seem to be fully getting as much as he should from the work, I will take the pegs away and focus on numbers. I will demonstrate one board at a time and never more than three at once. When I am confident that he understands what he's doing, I will add it to his shelf. I plan to create boards 6-10 when he's ready!

Edit: This activity has gone really well for Tyler. He has learned so quickly! If you'd like to see him working, please visit my next post! I was so excited to show my latest project that I hadn't even introduced it to him before blogging about it!

First time linking to Hands On: As We Grow
Also linking with One Hook Wonder


  1. Great idea! Its looks to be great way to learn numbers! Great job making it, and great job Ty!!!!!

  2. I know some preschoolers that would really enjoy this activity. Very creative way to involve fine motor and counting skills. Thank you for sharing.
    Discovering Montessori

  3. Yay for Ty! I love your DIY tool and plan to make this myself! Thank you for posting.

  4. Great job! Good idea to not distract by keeping the background color for each numeral the same! Another way of arranging pegs would be in rows of two with the leftover peg centered at the bottom to teach odd and even like the Montessori cards and counters: Not essential, of course. Thanks so much for linking up with Montessori Monday! I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page.

  5. Thank you everyone! :)

    Deb, thank you so much for the information! I was wondering if there was a certain way I should arrange the pegs... I will follow that rule with 6-10 for certain. Thanks for the feature! :)

    Jen [Having trouble posting under my acct again...]

  6. Love this idea! You did a great job. J-jo has one of the Lauri puzzles that is similar to this, but I love wooden toys so much better!

  7. I am in love with these. I found your blog though the hip homeschool mom hope.

  8. I just featured your photo and post in my Inexpensive and DIY Sandpaper Numerals post at

  9. Howdy! What a amazingly looking personal website you have! Did you create this website by yourself?