Designing with Qtips on the math table

I love offering the children everyday, simple things, like Qtips, to design and create with. I always hope that by supplying the children common household products, they might even be inspired to try the activities at home.

Designing with Qtips by Teach Preschool

On our math table, we supplied the children with a bunch of colorful Qtips that I purchased at The Dollar Tree. I drew boxes using a chalk paint marker on the table so the children would be encouraged to create their own designs and could come back to them later as they wished…

Qtip Designs2049

As we often do with our math table, the children spend the first day exploring the process any way they wish so I can observe what they think they might do with the materials or understand about creating designs…

Designing with Qtips by Teach Preschool

If the children already seem to have a good idea of what the intention is, then I just continue with their ideas throughout the week. But if the children seem to be lost on what the intention was, then by the second day, I offer up suggestions or prompts to steer them in the direction I would like to see them try or consider…

Designing with Qtips by Teach Preschool

One of my intentions for this particular process was to get the children to slow down and think more about their chosen designs. The children have been designing in some fashion or another all year long but they tend to “draw pictures” more than just focus on color, patterning, or designing…

Designing with Qtips by Teach Preschool

I stopped by the table every once in awhile and simply begin creating my own design. Sometimes I leave a design unfinished while other times I complete it. I talk with the children as I am designing about how I am using this color here or adding that line there…

Designing with Qtips by Teach Preschool

Some of the children are inspired to try their own designs while others still prefer to create more of a picture. I’m not concerned or all hung up on the children copying what I do. I am simply offering up ideas to inspire them…

Designing with Qtips by Teach Preschool

All throughout the week, the children explored the process of designing with Qtips on the math table. As they did, I would overhear conversations about what they were doing or making. The children love to talk a lot at the math table…

Designing with Qtips by Teach Preschool

One of my favorite things about the math table is that the process isn’t focused on making something to take home. You know, like gluing the Qtips to a piece of paper (although I like that at times too). Instead it is all about exploring and manipulating the materials. Because nothing is permanent, the children will keep coming back to design. They may add to a previous design or start over and create something entirely new. But the repetition gives them more confidence and helps them master the process that they are striving for…

Designing with Qtips by Teach Preschool

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By |2017-03-29T11:32:06+00:00April 1st, 2016|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Janet T. April 1, 2016 at 9:26 am - Reply

    .Deborah, thank you so much for your comments on both your goals for activity and your methods. I learn so much from this. I’m also very inspired by your invitational set up, especially the color words. Do you try to save these? or just write them as you see they are of interest. I remember you would have words of the week, and the prek children would write them with sharpies. Is this still a part of your curriculum? Your blog is so valuable to me. Thank you for taking the time to share these insights.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 1, 2016 at 11:16 am - Reply

      Hi Janet,
      We are in the habit of adding simple words to each area of our classroom as we go along, depending on the focus or objects or interest. This year, we are not doing a word of the week but I still like the idea. I truly add to our day what I think the children are ready for or are interested in or will be meaningful in the moment. I sure hope that helps! Have a great weekend:)

  2. Wendy, Vermont April 1, 2016 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    I love this idea for math and patterning. We completed a dinosaur unit and used Qtips to create Dino skeletons. So much to do with one simple, inexpensive item. Thank you for your many ideas.

  3. Azra Khurram April 2, 2016 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    What a great (creative) hands on idea! I am so excited to use it with my first graders for the Math lesson on Shapes.

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