Using a handful of resources you can create a great game that can be enjoyed by children throughout the early years. Whilst it's predominantly a maths activity, there are opportunities for younger children to develop their fine motor control too.
6 different toys, or laminated pictures of popular characters
The idea of this activity is that the toys have been locked to the chain, and the children need to save them. Begin by labelling each of the padlocks with a different number. Also number each of the keys using a coloured key tag. Make sure that the colour for each numbered key matches the colour of the same number on your printed number line.
You will then need to attach your toys to the chain using the different locks. If you're using real toys, try to properly secure them so that the children can't simply pull the toy off the chain! With the laminated print outs it's a bit easier. Punch holes in the characters, and pass the padlock through this.
Lay the toy-laden chain along a table, and add a few pots with the keys on their tags. Lastly, lay your colour coded time line on the table and gather a group of children together.
This activity is ideally suited to children who are just starting to recognise different numbers. Assign each child a toy, and support them to identify the numbers written on each of the locks which secure it in place. The child can then look for those numbers again on the timeline. The corresponding colour on the timeline will help the child to find the keys they need to release the toy.
Younger children joining in with the fun can be encouraged to help by sorting the keys into different piles according to their colour. All children will also benefit from the fine motor control needed to manipulate the key and open the padlocks.
8 - 20 months
Physical Development, Moving & Handling; "Picks up small objects between thumb and fingers"
16 - 26 months
Mathematics, Numbers; "Beginning to organise and categorise objects"
22 - 36 months
Mathematics, Numbers; "Recites some number names in sequence"
30 - 50 months
Mathematics, Numbers; "Uses some number names accurately in play"
Mathematics, Numbers; "Recites numbers in order to 10"
Mathematics, Numbers; "Shows an interest in numerals in the environment"
Physical Development, Moving & Handling; "Uses on handed tools and equipment. Eg. Makes snips in paper with child scissors"
40 - 60+ months
Mathematics, Numbers; "Recognises numerals 1 to 5"
Physical Development, Moving & Handling; "Handles tools, objects, construction and malleable materials safely and with increasing control"