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Play-Doh and Craft Stick Number Line

Sweet Pea is 4 years old.

From:    I have had  trouble finding anything about learning the teen numbers.  Many activities seem to be about only the numbers 1-10, so I was excited when I saw this wonderful math idea at Chalk Talk because I knew I’d be able to extend it all the way up to the number 20.  (If you have any good suggestions for “teen” number activities, please leave a comment below!)


  • Play-Doh.
  • 20 craft sticks.  (Younger tots might only need 5 or 10.  It is best to only introduce a few new numbers at a time.)
  • Fine-tip felt pen.


  • Write one number (1 through 20) at the top of each of the craft sticks on both the back and the front.

  • Mix the craft sticks into a pile.


  • Help your tot build a long Play-doh snake and press it down to the table.
  • Tell your tot that you are building a number line.  Search through the pile for the craft stick that has the number “1” on it and stick it upright on the far left side of the Play-Doh snake.
  • Suggest that your tot find the number “2” in the pile and stick it next to the number one.
  •  Allow your tot to continue placing the craft sticks along the number line.


Observations:  Sweet Pea has been struggling to learn her teen numbers so this activity was a bit of a challenge for her.


It was a good challenge though and she stuck with it.   I love activities like this one that are so engaging for her and present old material in a new way.    She really enjoyed the physical aspect of  pushing the craft sticks into the Play-Doh  and talked the entire time about how she was making a number “fence”.


After she got all of the numbers lined up, Sweet Pea decided that she wanted to make street signs out of them, and of course I let her.  She drew a stop sign and a yield sign on paper, cut them out and glued them to the sticks and then drove a toy car around them.

This was a was a great little activity and we’ll probably do it again.  It was quick to prepare and I highly recommended it if your tot is still learning numbers.


Notes from the Trenches:  Next time we do this, I am going to make a control sheet that shows all of the numbers in correct order so she can check herself instead of asking me which number should be next.

The first time I only wrote the numbers on one side of the craft stick and it was difficult for Sweet Pea to find the one she wanted.


Rating: 4 Stars * (Fun, Easy, Independent, Frugal)

Carnivals: Linked up to It’s Playtime @ hands on : as we grow.

20 comments to Play-Doh and Craft Stick Number Line

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