DIY Counting Hands Activity For Early Math Learners

counting hands craft DIY

Counting hands is a great way to introduce addition and subtraction to your early math learners.

Fingers are a wonderful manipulative material, and they’re always on hand! But remember, the more variations of manipulatives you introduce, the better chances you have to impress concepts with kinesthetic learners. The real point of manipulatives is not to get answers, but to create ideas and images in the mind that allow your child to get those answers without the manipulative. Have you ever noticed your child struggling to count fingers? They have to put down their pencil, or even worse, start all over because their counting hand becomes the counted and it gets confusing! As your child learns basic addition and subtraction in sets of 10, this DIY activity offers an extra set of hands to rely on.

As you introduce the learning tool, start with counting and folding the fingers. Discuss what the “up” position looks like and the finger “down” position looks like. Next, work on adding up different sets of fingers. Finally, practice taking away fingers to learn subtraction. You might cue your students with questions such as, “How many fingers are down? How many fingers are still up?” It may be useful to count in order, for example, start with the left finger and count in sequential order, reading left to right. After this concept is mastered, you can add a challenge by doing it backward or with random fingers! Counting Hands Craft is perfect for your 1st or 2nd grader, ages 6-9. 


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White background paper
Colored cardstock paper


1. Trace Hands

Trace your left and right hand on colored cardstock paper.

Counting Hands Craft DIY for the classroom

2. Cut out hands

Using scissors, cut out each hand. 

Counting Hands Craft DIY for the classroom

3. Glue palms to background paper 

Use glue to secure the colored hand to the white background paper. Make sure you only put glue on the palm of the hand, you don’t want to glue down the fingers!

Counting Hands Craft DIY for the classroom

4. Thumbs in!

Place the left and right hands next to each other with the thumbs facing in so it looks natural. 

Counting Hands Craft DIY for the classroom

5. Fold fingers 

Pre-fold each finger so they fold down comfortably. Press the fold so the crease is remembered by the paper and easy to fold up and down. 

Counting Hands Craft DIY for the classroom

6. Count fingers 

Count all ten fingers aloud (do not write these numbers on your background paper).

Counting Hands Craft DIY for the classroom

7. Addition

Practice all the combinations that add up to 10. You could write them down on the lower half of your background paper or use a different sheet. 

Counting Hands Craft DIY for the classroom

8. Subtraction 

Name all the combinations that a set of 10 could equal. Write the answers on the bottom of your page, or on a different sheet of paper. 

Counting Hands Craft DIY for the classroom

Learning addition and subtraction for the first time is fun when you have an extra pair of hands! The paper manipulative is a great alternative for children who aren’t comfortable using their own hands or to solidify the concepts and switch up your daily routine!  

Counting Hands Craft DIY for the classroom

Read: Teaching Contractions With LEGO Blocks – Making Learning Fun

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