Using pegs to teach cognitive skills


Total cost = $4

[~12 months on]  Add ‘pegs’ and (cheap) ‘containers’ to your next grocery list and have fun teaching your child about colours, counting and more!  And that’s before we even think about adding them to a pretend play scene!  I store ours in our laundry cupboard so the kids can discover them and play when they want to.  Little ones will need to ask ‘help’ to get the containers open.

colour sorting

colour sorting

With the younger ones (around 12 months), you might start with just two colours.  Encourage them to match each peg to it’s correct container (see above).  Remember to name the colour each time they put the peg in – your child can learn the names of colours through your repetition (‘’), rather than having to ‘learn’ them down the track.

Another time, you might start labelling ‘same..different…different..same’ as they attempt to put the pegs into the containers.

Later, you might start saying ‘I wonder what this colour is..?’ to see if your child might say the name.  Or you can start naming the colours and then stop and wait…. a nice way for a child to learn colours rather than being tested (what’s this colour?, what colour is this?).  And if they don’t say anything, they probably aren’t ready to say the colours expressively yet.  That’s okay – just keep naming the colours for them!

balancing 'boats'

balancing ‘boats’

For the older kids, talk about balancing the containers.  How many can the container take on one side before it tips over? Let them experiment.  This is a fun one to relate to ‘Who Sank the Boat’?’ book – first the cow got in (put the peg on), then the donkey got in (make her balance her weight!) etc.



Get creative with this one – count as you get them out, pack them away, put them on the sides of the containers or stick them on their clothes.  Before you start counting, try to always ask the question ‘how many?’ and then answer it yourself by counting.  Many children start learning to count but look at an adult blankly when they are asked ‘how many are there?’.  Take their fingers to count one by one if that helps.  Again, no pressure for the little one to count.  Just start by doing it for them every time and one day stop and wait……

how does it work?

how does it work?

Have you ever studied a peg?  See it through a child’s eyes.  What is each bit for?  Use the appropriate language – ‘look the end bits are rounded‘, ‘this is the spring‘, ‘we need to pinch these bits’, ‘this bit holds onto the washing line AND the clothes’.  What happens if we take the spring off?  What is it made from?  If we lost all of our pegs, how could we improvise?  Do you know what ‘improvise’ means?  I wonder who invented the peg?  Do you know what ‘invented’ means?

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