Now that my 4-year-old charge has pretty much mastered his numbers he is in need of a tricker challenge, so I thought perhaps introducing him to the concept of addition. I could have just gone with having some counters out and getting him to put them together, but I thought a more exciting method was needed to help him so that it would leave him wanting to do over and over again.

You will need:

  • A large shoe box
  • Paper
  • 2 bottles (500ml Evian bottles are a great size for this)
  • Paper
  • Knife or sharp scissors
  • Beads

1. Place the shoe box on its side (so the long sides are at the top and bottom), and cut 2 holes the size of the bottles on the top. You don’t want the holes to be too big as the bottles will fall through.

2. Cut the bottoms off the 2 bottles and squeeze them into the holes so that top of the bottle is now facing down. Make sure that the lids are no longer on.

3. Using the paper, draw, cut out and stick together the template to make a long rectangular box, this is to catch the beads once you put them through the bottles. This is the equal area.

You are then ready to use your new adding machine.

This activity is good for:

  • Developing basic maths skills
  • Fine motor skills
  • Exploring size, i.e. what objects are bigger or smaller by seeing if they will fit through the opening in the top of the bottle.