I found a pack of colorful small bowls at Ross Dress For Less for under $4, used decorater gems bought at a yard sale for $1 and printed number cards with dots. For older children I used dobbers to make the addition problems seen below and used small bowls I purchased at a yard sale too. This activity can be teacher assisted or the children can work by themselves. The great thing is that there is no wrong way to do this!!! If children count and sort like the 3 year old boy above is so excited about completing or if they match the dots and do one-to-one correspondence or if they just want to pick up the gems and put into bowls - its all good and so much learning is going on!!
During this morning we were also doing activities that encouraged learning about "Bears" - I didnt connect this activity with the theme until I saw a bag of Teddy Graham crackers in my office. I switched out the gems with the little bear shaped crackers and even the children that had already done this activity wanted to come back and do it again. I explained to the children that the crackers weren't for eating but I saved some and they would get them at story time. The bowls and number cards can be used over and over again with different counters depending on your theme.
Hope your children enjoy this activity that cost less that $5 and is rich with so much fun and learning!