One counting toy that has been incredibly loved by both my children is one I made from things I had around the house. It is very similar to this Stack and Sort Board at a fraction of the cost.
- a piece of packing foam (from a package you may have received)
- 15 beads of five colors (I used beads from Bear's lacing beads set)
- 5 colored pencils (the same five colors as the beads)
- stickers of the numerals 1 to 5 (but you could just print out numbers and glue them on)
My colored pencils were already very used; you may have to cut your colored pencils for this to work for you. I coordinated the beads I had to go with the lengths of the pencils I had available, so because I had a very short blue pencil, I used blue for the one bead.
Insert your pencils into the foam at regular intervals, leaving just enough of the pencil sticking out to fit the right number of beads. This is the control - only four beads fit on the number 4 rod (pencil).
The point is that the child will match the color of the bead to the color of the pencil. My 20 month old has no interest in matching, but he is at least still getting practice fitting the beads on the rods and counting with Mommy.