Counting and Numbers
Early childhood education ideas and activities that encourage counting, observation and listening skills. Number recognition is enhanced as preschool children learn games that promote gross motor development and cooperation.
Counting and Number Activity ThemeAnother Counting and Number Theme is in the Rainbow Resource Room!
Birthday Cake Counting
Materials: Wood, drill, paint (for making the board), birthday cards that show a numeral for each age - up to age 10 and birthday candles.
Description: This is a one or two person
game to make for choice time.
To play the game, a child selects a birthday card, looks at the numeral on the card and puts that number of candles on the cake. You may need to explain that there is no 'extra candle to grow on' used in this game. You can substitute cut dowels for the candles but the children seem to like the candles better.
An entire Birthday Activity Theme is in the Rainbow Resource Room.
Ice Cream Cone
Materials: Brown, green, pink and white tag board. Colored construction paper, paper punch, scissors, glue or rubber cement, clear contact paper or laminate, and a black felt tip marker.
Math Muffin Tins
Materials: Cupcake paper liners, felt tip marker, poker chips or anything they can count and sort.
Description: Teachers with marker, on the
muffin liners write numbers 1-10 and then have the kids count and sort
that many items into each liner.
Materials: A set of number cards relevant to your children, 0-10 or 1-5 depending on abilities. Try writing the number and corresponding dots along with the number word on each card.
Description: In advance, teachers discuss the number cards with the children. Next, children sit down and close their eyes, then the teacher hides number cards around the room. Children now have to find the numbers. When they find the numbers they arrange them in to order. This activity can be played in the garden where more exciting hiding places can be found.
By cutting different shapes e.g. fish for the number cards the game can be theme based. When using fish, I ask the children to feed a shark with the fish in order. The shark is a cardboard box with a toothy mouth cut in it. If you make a hole in the back of the box you can put your arm inside and grab the fish from the children like a real shark. The children really enjoy learning number concepts this way.
Comments: Just plain numbers are fun but by changing the shape of the numbers the children feel their playing another game and experience a great deal of number concept reinforcement.
For Story time:
Caps and Cans
Materials: Bottle caps, large coffee cans and a permanent marker.
Description: During free play introduce this game to a few children at a time. With the marker teachers number cans with dots (I used one through six). Let children count the number of dots on each can. Then let children try to toss that many caps into the can. Children will find this fun game among friends, seeing who can get more caps into the cans.
Comments: This was originally a beanbags
and cans activity, but I found that
the beanbags were too large to try and toss
into the cans.
Materials: Cardboard box, cardboard, marker and bean bags.
Description: I made a bean bag game out of a cardboard box. First, I divided the box into 9 squares using cardboard pieces. I put one number in each spot of the box by writing the number 1-9 on the cardboard squares.. You could also use letters or shapes. The children then toss a bean bag into one of the squares and call out the number they land on.
Comments: This is a fun way to further develop
the children's understanding of
numbers, letters or shapes!
Materials: Children's name tags and number cards.
Description: Ask children to wear their name tags. The teacher stands and the children come and stand in front of the teacher when the teacher says, "Ok, if your name has 1 letter in it come and stand here." The teacher then moves over and goes to the next number (2, 3, 4, etc.). Ask each child in the front of a line hold a number card that has the number of letters on it.
Then teachers ask questions like, "Which line has the most letters? Which line has the least letters? Are there any lines that are the same?"
Comment: Teachers can also make a graph on
the board .
and Telephone Numbers
Materials: Heavy paper, access to laminator and permanent felt pens.
2. We have created place mats that have the children's address, phone number and a stamp on them. We laminated the place mats and use them at snack time. Every day, we check each child's memory of one piece of information on their place mat.
3. The name tags that the children put on each day have their first name. When we are learning phone numbers, I print their phone numbers on the back. If they are having trouble remembering their telephone numbers, they have the option of checking the back of their name tags!
Comments: Most are pleased when they can tell you their telephone number by heart.
Materials: Container with separate compartments such as an egg carton or muffin tin. Beads for stringing and strings of equal length.
Description: Have beads sorted in the compartments according to color. Children "copy" the teacher's pattern of stringing. Increase difficulty of the pattern by adding more colors and more beads, varying the numbers each time.
Easy to Make
Materials: Paper (if you want to make charts) and pictures. I make charts and add 10 of whatever the rhyme is about.
Description: Remember the rhyme One potato, Two potato. I make a rhyme every month to go with what theme we are using - Halloween, Christmas, Apples, Fish etc. Here are two examples:
Sandy M. shares this new twist on an old chant in which preschool children use movement and rote counting skills.
Description: Have children in your circle on their feet, get a beat going with a clap and a stomp & say "Get your potatoes up! And let's count!" Hold up fists (potatoes) to count with fingers up as indicated:
One potato, two potato, three potato, four!
Five potato, six potato, seven potato, eight!
Nine potato, ten potato, can't believe my
This is SO aerobic and the children love the notion of making mashed potatoes by stomping. Also intriguing to them is the faster and faster counting to ten.
Comments: Great for rainy days and to reinforce
rote counting in very young children. Preschool children also respond to
the familiarity and then novelty of the chant.
Pot of Gold
Description: Teachers have the child pick a card with a number on it and see if the he / she knows the number. You then have the child put a gold "nugget" on top of the dots until all of the dots are full.
The children should be counting out loud when they are placing nuggets. For example, 3 gold nuggets on the dots of the number 3 card. This will help the children gain better knowledge of one-to-one correspondence.
Comments: The children enjoy playing with
the gold nuggets.
The Donut Shop
In advance cut out several different colored donuts from construction paper. Laminate and place them in a circle. Children sit in a circle.
Song: The Bakery Shop (adapted)The child picks up a colored donut and says the color donut and runs around the circle back to her spot. Repeat the song until all the donuts are gone.
One Potato, Two PotatoPlaying the game:
Preschoolers stand in a circle and hold out their hands in a fist with thumbs up. The leader takes one fist and begins counting off each fist by gently tapping them. When the leader needs to count his/her counting fist, tap it on the chin. When you get to "more", put that fist behind your back. Keep repeating the rhyme over and over until one fist is left. That preschooler is the winner and becomes the new leader.
You will need:
Five Little Speckled
Continue until only one frog is left
One little specked frog.
"Here's a little different twist to one of the songs / rhymes you have. I took a green plastic gardening glove and a black Sharpie marker and made "speckles" all over the fingers, then made two eyes and a smile on the outside tip of each finger. l found an old "speckled" tree branch "log" in my yard.
I held the log with my left hand and "danced" the "frogs" ( my right gloved hand) while singing the song. When one dived into the pool, I jumped my right hand onto the floor space between me and the students and had the "frogs" wiggle around, sometimes touching the students shoes. Each time I took away a frog (folding a finger down) until when none were left I put my hands behind my back and took off the glove. The students really enjoyed the "puppet" show and practiced counting, too."
and Counting activities
can be found in the
Search the Preschool Rainbow
Preschool learning activities, themes and ideas that enrich year round early childhood curriculum