Sometimes the best learning activities are the simplest, low-tech ones. With an ordinary bag of mixed beans, you can strengthen your child’s ability to sort, categorize, see patterns, add, and count — essential for developing early math skills.

What you’ll need

One bag of dried mixed beans
Graph paper with one-inch squares
Pencil or crayon

How to do it

Place the graph paper on a table or flat surface, and give your child a small container of beans. Have her sort them by color, shape, or size and place the groups of beans onto the paper — one bean per square. Ask her which group has the most. As your child progresses, ask her to add two groups together and write down the total number. Or you can have her arrange the colored beans in a repeating pattern.