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Muddy Faces

Make a counting rope

A great activity to practice fine motor skills and tool use ending up with an outdoor maths abacus.

Tool use & Traditional Crafts


An extra large bead string that is a must for every outdoor setting. A perfect tactile resource for supporting one-to-one correspondence and other concepts of early mathematical development.

What you'll need

  • wooden counters with holes through
  • string

This activity has been provided by

Environmental Considerations

Consider the environmental impact of preparing, carrying out & completing this activity. Could this impact be reduced? Specific considerations for this activity could include:

  • leave no trace

Health & Safety Considerations

Follow your usual operating procedures and carry out appropriate risk benefit assessments.
Some considerations particular to this activity include:

  • tool use
  • string use
Tool use & Traditional Crafts

Step #1

Buy or make some wooden counters with a hole through the middle. Look at our Guide to palm drills if you want more information about drilling your own counters.
You’ll also need a length of string with a slightly smaller diameter than the hole.

If you are making the drill holes yourself, use your drill directly down through the item onto a hard surface.

Tool use & Traditional Crafts

Step #2

Make a nice pile of wooden threading blocks.

Have fun threading the string or lace through the blocks.

Big threading:

big threading

If you use a bigger drill, such as a carpenters drill and brace or an electric drill, then you can drill bigger blocks that can be threaded onto rope to create a bigger threading set.

Counting rope:

counting rope with threaded blocks

If you alternate the blocks in sets of five, between shorter and longer blocks, or use different diameters, you can create a counting rope.

Disclaimer: Muddy Faces cannot take any responsibility for accidents or damage that occurs as a result of following this activity.You are responsible for making sure the activity is conducted safely.

Key Features


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