Counting With Beads & Pipe Cleaners- 1-10 Math Activity

By using colorful beads and pipe cleaners you can easily create a fun math game for preschoolers. This activity is also great for helping develop fine motor skills! This counting with beads and pipe cleaners activity is a great choice for little learners in your life. 

beads and pipe cleaners with numbers scattered on table

This activity is a fun way to work on one-to-one correspondence and number recognition. These early math skills are so important to work on with your young child as they get closer to starting Kindergarten. It also is a great way to work on hand-eye coordination! Manipulating those pony beads can be a challenge for little hands! 

This activity is super compact and is perfect for a busy box, restaurant bag or to pack when you are planning a long road trip or flight with your little one! My 3 year old is entertained by this activity for a solid 30 minutes and we regularly use it in his bin for quiet time.

sticker labels, scissors, beads, marker and pipe cleaners on table


  • Pony beads
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Scissors
  • Permanent markers
  • Sticker labels

How To Make Your Own 1-10 Math Activity

This activity takes less than 5 minutes to make. I had all of the materials at home already which made it very budget friendly.

  1. Write numbers 1-10 on your sticker label
  2. ​Take 10 pipe cleaners and cut them down a bit (Mine ended up being about 6 inches long)
  3. Wrap the label around the end of each pipe cleaner- if your sticker slides off just fold over the pipe cleaner over the sticker a bit (see photo for reference below)
Completed bead and pipe cleaner activity on table

Using Your Pipe Cleaner Counting Activity

​Have your child pick a pipe cleaner and tell you what number is at the top. If they are not yet recognizing numbers you can help them with this step. 

Then have your child pick out the corresponding number of beads needed for the pipe cleaner they picked. As they string the beads on the end of the pipe cleaner I like to have them count each bead they put on. Once they have put the right number of beads on the pipe cleaner you can move to the next one!

Please note that if you are using this with young kids the pony beads can be a choking hazard so it is best to provide supervision while they are doing this activity!

child stringing on bead to pipe cleaner

Different Ways To Use This Counting With Beads and Pipe Cleaners Activity

  • The pipe cleaner numbers are a great way for kids to start developing number recognition
  • If your child can easily identify numbers 1-10 you can have them put the pipe cleaners in numerical order 
  • To add in some color recognition skills ask your child to match the bead color to the pipe cleaner color
  • For older kids challenge them with simple addition facts (with the answer being a single-digit number) and have them identify the right pipe cleaner with the answer and then string on the beads
  • If you are in a classroom setting this would be a great idea for a small group activity or quiet center time

Fine Motor Development

I am a sucker for activities that have multiple learning opportunities embedded in them. This counting with beads and pipe cleaners activity requires your child to have a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination in order to string the small beads onto the pipe cleaner.

You might find that your child gets frustrated by how hard this can be. It is important to encourage them in a playful way so that this activity is fun and not frustrating for them! Fine motor skills are so important for kids to develop and this is a perfect activity to work on these skills. Empowered Parents has a great post on why fine motor skills in your child’s early years are so important if you want to learn more!

child's hand stringing bead on pipe cleaner

Other Learning Activities For Preschoolers

Pinterest Pin for Pipe cleaner & bead counting Activity

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