Shell and Pearl Number Matching Game

Put together this nautically themed number matching game using shells and ‘pearls’ to develop children’s mathematical learning.

shell number matching game mi

I don’t know about you, but we are always looking for new and fun ways to explore numbers and maths. This activity is certainly that; fun and different and was loved by my 2.4yr old! It develops number recognition and encourages children to match the numbers to each other as well as work on counting objects.

At Home


For the activity we used some shells
and some dried cannellini beans. On the underside of the shell we wrote the numbers as well as the number names; it’s always good to allow children the opportunity to become familiar with the words too. We used numbers to 5 this time but will use number to 10 next time as S (2.4yrs) got on really well with this. I wrote the numbers to 5 on the cannellini beans too, I did 5 of each number.


To make the activity a little more visually appealing we presented it in a wooden tray with our blue, sparkly play dough (which we had used for a previous activity) and decorated with shells
and glass pebbles
around the edge. As well as creating an attractive set up, the play dough helped to hold the shells steady making them easier to use. Sand, salt or rice would be good alternatives too.


S carefully looked at the numbers on the beans and shells and named them. At first she took big handfuls and sprinkled them into the shells but once I’d modelled what to do she got the hang of it. She was able to sort the numbers well and I encouraged her to count the beans in each shell once she was finished.




In the Early Years Classroom

This activity is fantastic for number recognition and matching but could also be used to encourage children to match the correct number of objects to each shell, for example one into the first shell, two into the second and so on.


The shells could also be used to order numbers in a wonderfully tactile way.


Making a set of these for the classroom is a cost-effective way to make some interesting and different number counters that children will love to use! They’d make a great addition to a maths area.

EYFS Areas Developed:

  • Mathematics: recognising numerals, matching numerals, ordering numbers, counting a given amount of objects.

Did you enjoy this activity? Have a look at my MATHS Pinterest board for more fun and inspiring ideas.

Follow Beth @ Wings and Roots’s board Maths Activities on Pinterest.

{Affiliate links are added for your convenience to find resources. Many thanks for your support}

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *