Can Chores Support Numeracy Development with your Child?

Using Numeracy to Get the Job Done with 3,2,1, FUN!

No one really enjoys doing chores, especially a child. What if I told you that not only could you get your child excited about helping out around the house, but you could be supporting his numeracy development at the same time?

Ready…Set…GO…Set the Table!

Turn this simple chore into a game! First have your child determine how many of each item she will need to set the table.

  • How many places do we need to set?
  • How many plates, forks, knives, spoons and napkins?
  • Do we have enough chairs?

Now ask your child to estimate how long he thinks it will take him to set each item on the table safely.

  • How many seconds will it take you to set each plate safely on the table?
  • Will it take longer to set the spoons than it will the napkins?

Once he has made his estimations or guesses, start the race! Count down the seconds as your child completes each task. This simple game will have your child racing to help at dinner time.

Laundry Basket…ball?

Set up two laundry hampers at one end of a room. One hamper is for lights and the other is for darks. Play a game of laundry basketball! Challenge your child to a game of one-on-one or get the whole family involved and make teams.

  • Keep score! The first team to 10 wins!
  • Try taking shots from different distances. Is it easier to get an item into the basket from close or far away? Are shirts easier to slam dunk or socks? Why?

laundryOnce the laundry has been dried, there are a variety of fun sorting and folding games for the teams to try.

  • The first team to sort their clothes by colour wins!
  • The first team to sort the pants, shirts, socks and underwear into piles wins!
  • The first team to fold each shirt in half and then quarters wins!
  • Match up all the socks. Challenge the other team to another game of laundry basketball using the pairs of socks!

The ideas are endless, and even stinky socks won’t keep your child away from a great game of laundry basketball with the family.

Eye Spy Somebody Cleaning Their Room!

Getting your child to clean their room can be a struggle, but not with this game of Eye Spy.

  1. Choose five items from your child’s room and set them on the bed.
  2. Instruct your child that while she is cleaning her room, she should hide each of the five items.
  3. Once the room is cleaned and the five items are hidden, your child can invite you back into the room. Try to find each item by searching and asking questions. For instance:
  • Is the object hidden on top of something or inside something?
  • Is the object high or low?
  • Am I close to the object or far away?
  • How many steps until I reach the object?

Your child will love to watch as you try to discover where he has hidden the items. This game also gives you the opportunity to make sure the mess hasn’t been shoved into the closet or under the bed!

Getting help with chores shouldn’t be a chore! Taking time to support your child’s numeracy development doesn’t need to be scheduled or planned. These opportunities for learning exist in everyday activities. Chores + learning (really can) = FUN!

For more ideas on how to support numeracy development in the everyday, visit 3,2,1, FUN! Tuesday afternoons from 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm at Brander Gardens school, Edmonton.

Visit our website for more information about the 3,2,1, Fun! program.

hashtag: #321Fun


3,2,1, Fun! Blasts Off the Fall Session

Elementary Pupil Counting With Teacher In Classroom

3,2,1, Fun! is back for the fall session. As always, our programs are free. We are now located at Brander Gardens School on Tuesday afternoons, from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm. We are excited to see the return of some of our families from previous sessions, and are eager to meet some new families from the Brander Gardens area.

Some things that you can look forward to this fall from 3,2,1, Fun!:

Books we will be sharing:

  • A Perfectly Messed up Story by Patrick McDonnell
  • The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
  • Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
  • The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers
  • The Mitten by Jan Brett

Songs and Rhymes that we be sharing:

  • Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
  • 5 Little Pumpkins
  • The Color Song
  • Mix and Stir
  • If You Are a Ghost

Activities and Games we will explore:

  • Creating a Story Board to bring our favourite stories to life
  • Constructing our own game of BLAST OFF! using items you already have at home
  • Baking and decorating delicious cookies in all shapes, sizes, and colours
  • Creating our own puzzles and matching games using calendars and our imaginations
  • Exploring the colours, smells, and textures of Fall through a scavenger hunt and a hide and seek game

This is just the start of the fun and learning that is set to happen Tuesday afternoons at Brander Gardens School! Please join our community of learners as we explore numeracy through songs, stories and play!

Visit our website for more information about the 3,2,1, Fun! program.

hashtag: #321Fun


The Many Benefits of Crafts

iStock_000008336394XLargeDoing a craft together is a great way to build the skills needed for future lifelong learning, such as thinking skills, working together and continuous learning.

Crafts incorporate different learning styles, and are hands-on activities that build fine motor skills. By giving your child a project  that can be worked on together until completion, you are also working on setting goals and building confidence and self-esteem.

On the Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus, we have a variety of simple crafts you can do at home – all geared towards early learning and literacy.

One such craft is a do-it-yourself playmat. Try it in conjunction with your child’s favourite book. One of our favourite children’s books is I Went Walking, by Sue Williams and Julie Vivas, and it goes especially well with this project. This book is about a little boy who goes on a walk and sees many different animals along the way. It is simple, repetitive, rhyming and entertaining,

I went walking.
What did you see?
I saw a black cat
Looking at me.

The following is just an example of what you can do. Tailor it to your own child’s interests. You might even want to make up your own story to go with your mat!

When the playmat is finished, you can use it with toys you already have at home.


You will need:

•  Plain cloth placemat or
other material such as pillowcase or tablecloth (the possibilities are endless)
•  Felt of various colours
•  Hot glue or fabric glue
•  Scissors
•  Paper and pencil for sketching

Foam or felt letters to spell the title


  1. Sketch out the setting on a piece of paper
  2. Cut out your felt pieces that go with the story
  3. Glue felt pieces onto placemat, then cut out and glue a path winding its way through the setting.
  4. Decorate with more felt as desired.



Draw, trace or print out play pieces from the story, then colour, cut and laminate (or use packing tape or contact paper). You might want to add Velcro to the backs of these pieces so they stick to the felt on the play-mat.

You want this to be a positive experience, so try to start simple. Don’t stress; have fun instead!


Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus information and schedule

hashtag: #ab_cow

Numeracy can be fun… for Everyone!


All children are unique individuals. They all act, play, and express themselves differently. As parents, we quickly discover our children’s preferences in all things. We also generally try to accommodate these preferences – preparing our children’s favourite foods, reading their favourite stories, or getting them clothing in their favourite colours or styles. Children even learn in different ways, for instance they can be:

  • Hands on learners
  • Visual learners
  • Auditory learners

Below is a list of activities that appeal to a wide variety of learning styles. There is no need to set aside time in your busy day to sit with paper and a pencil. Find what works best for your children and remember that the best opportunities for learning are the ones that are fun and occur naturally.


If your children love to sing and dance, here are some great songs to share. These songs are not only fun, but they support the numeracy concepts of number sense and counting. Once your children have learned these songs, try making up your own!

  • 5 Green and Speckled Frogs
  • Ten in the Bed
  • 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
  • 5 Little Ducks

Get Creative!

If your children have an artistic interest, let them create! Provide them with a variety of items to use in their creations. To support the concept of early numeracy, let your children explore colours, textures, shapes and sizes. Here are some ideas to inspire your little artists to create some fun art.

  • Choose a number and draw it on a piece of art paper. Have your children glue that number of items on the page.
  • Have your children choose their favourite colour and draw all the things they can think of that are that colour. Choose a new colour each day.
  • Collect items from nature to use in a collage. While creating the collage, discuss the shapes of the items, which items are bigger and which are smaller, and which are smooth, bumpy or rough.

Play With Your Food!

Cooking and baking with your children are perfect opportunities to explore early numeracy in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Following a list of instructions: what do you add first, second, etc.
  • Measuring ingredients: fill it full, use half, add 2 spoonfuls, etc.
  • Timing: bake for 25 minutes, mix for 2 minutes, etc.

Measure It!

Hand your children a ruler, a stick, or even their shoe and let them measure items around the house or outside. How many shoe lengths is the kitchen table? How many stick lengths is your bed? Is the bed longer than the table or shorter?

Game On!

Board and card games are wonderful opportunities to spend time with your family and practice numeracy skills. Rolling the dice, moving spaces along a game board, and following directions are just a few of the numeracy concepts supported by playing games.

Don’t feel the need to go out and purchase a board game if you don’t already have one. There are many games that you can play as a family that do not require any materials at all.

  • I Spy: focussing on colours, shapes and textures in your search
  • Scavenger Hunt: let your children choose the items to go searching for
  • Simon Says: Take turns being Simon, giving commands such as Simon says jump forward, Simon says spin 3 times, Simon says move fast

Once Upon a Time

Most children love to read or be read to. Sharing stories is a perfect opportunity to explore numeracy with your child.

  • Count items on the page
  • Find all the circles, squares, or triangles in the drawings
  • List all the colours you see
  • Predict what will happen next in the story

Opportunities to support your children’s early numeracy exist in the everyday activities that you are already doing! For more ideas on how to explore these learning opportunities visit us at 3,2,1, Fun! Tuesday afternoons from 1:00 to 2:30 pm at Brander Gardens Elementary School.

Visit our website for more information about the 3,2,1,Fun! program.

hashtag: #321_Fun




MOOOve into Summer!

COW-SummerWith stops in La Perle, Brander Gardens, and Primrose, the Edmonton C.O.W. bus summer programming has begun! Our first week was a huge success with a total of 81 participants joining us for some “monkeying” around; we launched monkeys with a specially made catapult, caught them with our parachute that doubled as a popcorn maker, and sang about 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed.

COW-Summer2Some of the fun activities we are looking forward to sharing this summer:

  • feeding a hungry caterpillar and then crafting one, as well as a beautiful butterfly
  • DIY backyard games using dollar items like pool noodles
  • practicing our “Eye Spy” skills with a family scavenger hunt
  • exploring measurement and prediction though H2O
  • exercising our lungs in a bubble blow-out
  • expressing ourselves artistically with a colour explosion

Some of the books we are going to bring to life:

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Mix it Up by Herve Tulle
  • Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
  • Waves in the Bathtub by Eugenie Fernandez
  • Tickle Monster by Josie Bissett

Kiddie karaoke will be featuring such favourites as:

  • “5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”
  • “Fuzzy Little Caterpillar”
  • “Colour Song”
  • “Going on a Treasure Hunt”
  • “5 Green and Speckled Frogs”
  • “Bugs Bugs Bugs”

We won’t divulge all of our plans — you’ll have to attend the program to see what other tricks we have up our sleeves!

Kristin and Crystal

You’ll find our Edmonton bus schedule here

hashtag: #edm_cow

Learn, Grow, and Play Together – as a Family

Spring is finally here! At Learn Together – Grow Together we have been focusing on ways in which we can “grow” as families.

Our activities have been showcasing ways in which parents are able to spend quality learning time with their children while having fun. Now that the weather is beautiful again, we encourage all families to spend time outdoors – growing together!

Below are some of the ways that we practiced growing together this session:

  • using cardboard boxes, plastic containers, and other recyclable materials, we made our own robots
  • using construction paper, ribbons, tape, and string, we made our own kites and flew them in the wind
  • using paint and pre-made wooden structures from a dollarstore, we decorated birdhouses for the birds that come to visit
  • using paper and markers, we created our very own scavenger hunt to do outside
  • using a Styrofoam cup (which we decorated with a face), potting soil, and grass seeds, we made our own grassheads by having the grass grow out of the top

Kite1     Kite2

We hope you can take the time to try one or more of these activities. As you are interacting and playing together, you will be growing together as a family too. Enjoy learning as you spend time together!

More about the Learn Together – Grow Together program

hashtag: #LT_GT


Free Outdoor Fun with 3,2,1, Fun!


Supporting your child’s numeracy development does not have to cost you anything but time and creativity, especially when you can head outdoors! At 3,2,1, Fun! we have started our spring session by sharing with our families a variety of numeracy activities that are free, support strong numeracy development, and are a ton of FUN!

Cloud search

Find a comfortable spot on the grass and lay down with your child. Take a look at the clouds in the sky. What shapes do you see in the clouds? What do the clouds look like? Are some bigger or smaller than others? Do the clouds tell a story? Do the shapes of the clouds change?

Jump to it!!

This is a fun game to play with your child in your back yard or at the park. Have your child choose a place to stand; this will be their starting position. Next choose a destination for them such as the swing set or the garage. Ask your child how many jumps they think it will take for them to reach the destination. Once they have made their estimate, have them “jump to it!” This activity is not only great exercise and fun, but it also allows your child to practice estimation, measurement, and counting. Try to use different forms of movement; try, for instance, baby steps, skipping, crab walking, etc.

Float or sink, what do you think?

Any activity that involves water is a sure hit with children! Fill up a bucket of water. Collect some natural items like rocks, sticks, and leaves, as well as some of your child’s favourite toys. Have your child predict which items they think will sink in the water and which items they think will float. Then test their predictions. Ask them why some items sink while others float. Support this activity using terms like heavy, light, weight, deep, shallow, etc.

Drop it!

This activity is similar to float or sink. Collect a variety of items that can be safely dropped onto the grass or a blanket outside. Ask your child which items they think will fall to the ground quickly and which will take longer to fall. Let them test their predictions by holding up the objects and dropping them! Discuss with them why some items fall faster than others.

You can make this activity even more challenging and fun for your child if you let them use a small step stool, the back steps, or a step ladder (with your supervision). This variation allows them to explore how different heights change the time it takes for an item to fall.

Scavenger Hunt

You do not need a paper, pen, or a list for a scavenger hunt. Head outside and use nature and your imagination! Use your child’s body as a tool of measurement to have them seek out scavenger items. For example, find something longer than your foot, bigger than your hand, thicker than your finger, or taller than you. You can also use shapes to inspire your search; find something shaped like a circle, triangle, square, etc.

This activity can be done anywhere. The only limit with this activity is your imagination! Have fun and let your child come up with some of the scavenger tasks!

For more ideas on how to support your child’s numeracy development in ways that are both free and fun, please visit us at 3,2,1, FUN! Tuesday afternoons at Callingwood School from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm.


Visit our website for information about the 3,2,1,Fun! program.

hashtag: #321_Fun

Learn Together, Grow Together

LTGT-webLast week was the start to our latest 10-week session of Learn Together, Grow Together. The program is for parents and caregivers and their children ages 3 to 6 years old. While the adults learn about their children’s early learning, and how to support literacy development and success in school, it is also a good opportunity for the parents to brush up on their own literacy skills and connect with other parents of preschool children.

We begin each session with stories and singing, followed by gym time. Afterwards, we split the children and parents into separate learning groups, and finally, we bring them back together for fun parent-child learning activities.

During parent time for the next few weeks, we will explore “emergent literacy.” Emergent literacy is “the knowledge children have about reading and writing before they can actually read and write.”( We will encourage parents in their role as emergent literacy teachers for their own children.

How does a child gain this knowledge about reading and writing? What are some strategies parents can use to foster emergent literacy in their child?

Here are a few ideas to try together with your family:

  • Talk with your child. Your child will learn so much from positive language interactions with you.
    • Talk about what you see in a picture book, while at the grocery store, at the park, etc.
    • Explain to your child what you are doing, while you are doing it. For example, if you make cookies, talk about the different ingredients and what steps you have to take, or if you are paying bills, use the time to talk to your child about money and numbers.
    • Play card and board games together. Turn off the electronic devices and have fun playing a game where there is opportunity to speak with each other.
  • Sing and rhyme with your child. Sing songs and rhymes together as they provide opportunities to bond with your child as well as expand their vocabulary. You can always make up your own songs and rhymes too – your child will enjoy hearing your voice either way.
  • Visit your local library and take advantage of their book lending services.
  • Follow you child’s lead in their interests. For example, if they have an interest in animals, share books about animals, sing songs and rhymes about animals, and play games about animals. If you can, take a trip to a pet store, a farm, or a zoo; take the time to talk about everything you see and experience together.
  • Model positive literacy behaviours to your child. If your child sees your enjoyment of reading the newspaper, writing a shopping list, talking about the road signs you see, etc., they will think of these literacy activities as positive experiences.

Parents have such an important role in cultivating the knowledge of reading and writing in their child, even before they are actually about to read and write. There are so many opportunities to promote emergent literacy in a small child, simply by intentionally interacting with them and involving them in what you are already doing!


More about the Learn Together – Grow Together program

hashtag: #LT_GT


Learning to Play!


When was the last time you played? As children, we played all the time; that was our job! Unfortunately, the older we get the less we play. And even though we have children who are playing constantly, we feel that we need to assume the role of parents instead of playmates. As parents, we are our children’s first and best teachers and playmates. We are the ones they love spending time with, getting dirty with, learning with, and having fun with!

Play is the best vehicle for helping our children to learn, develop and practice an incredible number of skills:

  • Social skills – through sharing, taking turns, negotiating, leading, and compromising
  • Physical skills – by using both fine and large muscles
  • Language, literacy and numeracy skills – through having conversations, playing games and having hands-on experiences
  • Self-esteem – by demonstrating successes and abilities
  • Becoming more independent – by making their own decisions
  • Cooperating, problem solving, and working with others

Through play, children are learning about their world; they are exploring, dreaming, imagining, and creating. The best way for parents to support this learning is by simply joining in their children’s play.

  • Observe – watch how your children play. Seeing which activities are their favourites, and learning what skills they excel at and what needs work. Identifying the goals they set for themselves.
  • Engage – jump in and join them in play! Now that you have been observing their interests, try supporting them and engaging with them in what they love to do. Follow their lead!
  • Be creative – there are no right ways, or right times, for play. There are no correct ways for using toys. Everything and anything can be objects of learning and fun. Use your imagination!

As parents, we often have so many demands in a day that incorporating ourselves into play can seem challenging. Below is a list of routine family activities and ideas for bringing play into them.

Grocery Shopping:

  • Help your children create a grocery list using pictures cut out of flyers, then challenging them to find all the ingredients on their list before you complete yours.
  • Let your children do the navigating of the cart. Let them drive! This is the perfect opportunity for playing with numeracy. Support this activity by using words like: right, left, near, far, up, down, fast, slow, stop, go etc.
  • If your children are riding in the cart, together try building a tower or a castle with the items in the cart. See how tall or how wide you can build it, and how many different shapes you can use.

Preparing for dinner:

  • Play with the process of measuring, pouring, and mixing! Get messy!
  • Challenge your children to a race! Who can set the table the fastest?
  • Play a guessing game! How many plates do we need for everyone? What shape are the napkins? What colours are on the table?
  • Picnic! Turning any meal or snack into fun and play is easy when you do it picnic style. Try using your back yard, deck or living room. Planning the picnic together with your children, decide where you will go, and who you will invite. Use your imaginations; it can be a picnic on Mars!


  • Play “I Spy” or other games involving things you see such as colours of cars or shapes of street signs.
  • Count the number of turns you are taking.
  • What songs do they know? Try making up a new song.

Bath Time:

  • Make bath time more playful by adding coloured ice-cube icebergs to their bath water!
  • Try tossing a bunch of glow sticks in the tub and turning out the lights!

Go Outside:

  • Every single trip outside can be a playful adventure if you use your imagination.
  • Take a walk and collect ‘treasures’ along the way.
  • When you take the garbage out, count how many steps it takes to get to the curb and how many it takes to get back.
  • Find some puddles and jump in! If there are no puddles, make your own!

Children want to see their parents having fun. They want to see us being silly, laughing, and getting dirty! More than anything, our children want to share these experiences with us. As parents we focus on sharing our world with our children. Let’s start focusing on letting our children share their world with us!!


Visit our website for information about the 3,2,1,Fun! program.

hashtag: #321_Fun

Beat the Cold! Bring the Outdoors In with Learn Together – Grow Together!

This last month has been a snowy, blowy and cold one. However the team at Learn Together – Grow Together has found a way to beat the cold! When it is too cold for our families to go outdoors, we simply bring the outdoors in!


Books that we read:

  • 10 on a Sled by Kim Norman
  • All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle
  • Snowballs by Lois Ehlert
  • The Mitten by Jan Brett


Activities we did:

  • After reading the storybook The Mitten, each family spent the afternoon creating their own storysack. Each storysack contained the characters from the story as well as a large white mitten. These storysacks provided families with a fun, unique and memorable way to read and share the story at home.
  • Using recycled newspaper and packing tape, we made a big basket full of “snowballs”. We then headed to the gymnasium for a variety of snowball throw and toss games, ending with a big group snowball fight!
  • After reading All You Need for a Snowman, we brought in a huge plastic bin of snow from outside. Then, wearing mittens, the children and their families spent the afternoon creating their own snowmen and snow castles!
  • Using plastic containers of varying sizes we froze “treasures” in water. Once frozen, we took the ice blocks out of the containers and the children spent the afternoon exploring methods to melt and chip the treasures from the ice. The children used a variety of methods including: warm water, hand held tools, salt etc. to extract their treasures. In order to keep this activity literacy based, our treasures included letters from the alphabet that corresponded with other items in the ice block. For instance, when a child extracted a letter “Y” from the ice, they would then begin to look for the items in the ice that corresponded with that letter, such as a yellow yo yo.


Snacks we shared:


Banana Snowmen
Ingredients: bananas, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and pretzels.



Pretzel Polar Bears
Ingredients: pretzel sticks, peanut butter, coconut and black icing.


Songs and Rhymes we shared:

I’m a Little Snowman (to the tune of I’m a Little Tea Pot)
I’m a little snowman, short and fat.
Here are my buttons and here is my hat.
When the sun comes out, I cannot play.
I just slowly melt away.

Five Little Snowmen
Five little snowmen all made of snow,
five little snowmen standing in a row.
Out came the sun and stayed all day,
and one little snowman melted away.

(count down to 0)

Zero little snowmen all made of snow,
zero little snowmen standing in a row.
Down came the snow that fell all day,
and five little snowmen came back to play.

To go along with these rhymes, our families constructed five popsicle stick snowmen and one popsicle stick sun to use while they recited the rhyme. These props were a fun activity for the families and they really brought the rhyme to life!!

With a little creativity and our families’ eager participation, Learn Together – Grow Together has succeeded in bringing the outdoors in and now you can too!!

More about the Learn Together – Grow Together program

hashtag: #LT_GT