Pre-K activities, learning games, crafts, and printables


25 ideas to help children learn to count - Tips and tricks - Educatall

25 ideas to help children learn to count

  1. Colourful abacus
    Purchase an abacus with large, colourful beads. Line all the beads up on the left side and show children how they can slide one bead at a time towards the right. Count the beads with them. Little ones will quickly grasp the concept. Later, you can invite children to slide one red bead, two blue beads, or three yellow beads and so on. Not only will children learn how to count with this activity, they will also work on their fine motor skills and practice color recognition.

  2. Magnetic numbers
    At first, use several "1's", "2's", and "3's". Spread them out in no particular order on a table or the floor. Have fun arranging them in the correct order (1, 2, 3) on a cookie sheet or magnetic board while naming the numbers. Once children master these three numbers, you may choose to add one number at a time to increase the level of difficulty.

  3. Bouncing balls
    Give each child an attractive ball or, if children are very young, manipulate a single ball yourself. The goal is to bounce the ball on the floor and count each bounce. This may represent quite a challenge for young children. This is a good thing; they will need to practice counting the first few numbers several times.

  4. A tower to build, blocks to count
    Deposit a bin filled with Lego or Duplo blocks on the floor and invite each child to take "1" block. Next, encourage them to take a second block and place it on top of the first one. Count the number of blocks each child's tower contains. Continue this activity until each child's tower contains ten or more blocks, depending on their age. Once the maximum number of blocks is reached, let children take their tower apart, one block at a time, counting them as they work. With very young children, use plastic cubes and simply help them stack the cubes while counting them together. Keep going until their tower falls down. They will surely want to start over again and again!

  5. Drinking straw pieces
    Purchase several large, colourful drinking straws (for thick smoothies). Have fun counting them with your group. If you have a baby bottle drying rack containing several branches, encourage children to slide the straws over them, counting them as they work. After a while, cut the drinking straws in two and repeat this exercise. You may continue to cut the drinking straws into smaller and smaller pieces. Children will have more to count!

  6. Cut and re-cut cheese
    For each child, deposit a slice of cheese in a plate. Using a knife, draw a grid-like design on each child's slice of cheese, but let children separate the tiny cheese cubes independently. Count each piece with them as they put them in their mouth.

  7. Adhesive numbers
    Purchase a large quantity of adhesive numbers. Hang large pieces of cardboard on a wall or set them on the floor, in a row. Using a marker, write a large number "1" on one piece of cardboard, a large number "2" on a second piece of cardboard, a large number "3" on another large piece of cardboard and so on. Invite children to associate the adhesive numbers to the corresponding board. Encourage them to name the numbers as they stick them on the correct boards. At the end of the activity, count with your group, pointing to the decorated pieces of cardboard as you go along.

  8. One line, two lines, many lines!
    Purchase scented markers, bright highlighters, or any other type of marker or crayon you know the children in your group will be eager to manipulate. Invite children to use them to draw vertical lines at the bottom of a piece of paper. Of course, they must count the lines one by one. Next, depending on the ages of the children in your group, you may ask them use scissors to cut along the lines while counting them once more. Young children who are beginning to use safety scissors will particularly enjoy this activity that will help them develop both their fine motor and counting skills.

  9. Counting coins
    Purchase a cute piggybank that is sure to attract children's attention as well as a large quantity of colourful coins. Make sure the coins can easily be inserted in the piggybank's opening. Let children take turns depositing one, two, or three coins in the piggybank while counting them. Once the piggybank is full, shake it until it is empty and start all over again! Children adore this very simple activity. You may choose to use several different piggybanks or even make your own. Simply decorate a metal coffee can and cut a slit in the lid. If you decide to make your own piggybank, decorate it with adhesive numbers!

  10. One for you, one for me
    At snack time, help children find a partner. Give each team a bowl filled with a variety of berries. Encourage them to divide the berries among themselves, counting them as they deposit them in their individual plates. Help children if necessary. If the children in your group are very young, invite them to pick three berries each at a time so they only have to count up to three.

  11. Planting flowers
    Purchase pretty fabric or plastic flowers at the dollar store as well as one or several oasis blocks (or simply use modeling dough). Let children prick the flower stems in the foam, counting each new addition. They will love repeating this activity over and over again and will therefore have several opportunities to practice counting. It's up to you to choose how many flowers you let them use for each "bouquet". You may also choose to count the flowers for the children in your group. Hearing you say the numbers in the correct order will help them remember them.

  12. Birthday cake candles
    Cut a huge birthday cake shape out of white cardboard and display it on a wall. Cut narrow rectangles out of colourful paper to represent candles. Use adhesive putty to add one candle at a time. Count the candles as you add them.

  13. Two, three, and four-legged friends
    You will need your animal figurine bin for this activity. Invite children to choose one animal figurine at a time and count how many paws/legs it has. This is a great exercise for learning to count from 1 to 4. Of course, some animals (snakes, fish, etc.) have zero legs. Young children may not be familiar with this number (0)...after all, we always start at "1" when we teach children to count.

  14. Hopscotch
    Have fun drawing unusual hopscotch grids. For example, your hopscotch grids may contain only numbers 1 to 3 or, instead of drawing boxes, you may choose to draw flowers, suns, stars, etc. Of course, what is important here is that you find a way to use this simple game to explore numbers with your group.

  15. Bright sticks
    Empty a bag of colourful Popsicle sticks on a table or on the floor. Deposit pieces of construction paper (same colors) nearby. Ask children to associate the Popsicle sticks to the paper of the matching color one by one while counting them. You may also use the colourful sticks to represent the numbers children are familiar with. Once you are satisfied with the result, glue the Popsicle sticks together to create colourful numbers that can be used to decorate your daycare and to practice counting with your group. Simply display them on a wall, in the correct order.

  16. Dance steps
    Invent simple dance steps and teach them to your group. Show them how to count their steps, "1, 2, 3...1, 2, 3...".

  17. Light show
    Children love flashlights. Purchase several colourful flashlights. Turn the lights off and have fun turning the flashlights on and off repeatedly. Count every time you turn the flashlights on with your group. You may also use the flashlights as spotlights to light up large numbers displayed on a wall. Name the numbers you see.

  18. Countable paperclips
    Purchase several large, colourful paperclips or paperclips with pretty designs. You can even find paperclips that have fun shapes glued to their tip. Hold a large piece of heavy paper and encourage children to slide paperclips on it one at a time while counting them. Help them if necessary. To push this activity even further, you could use hot glue to stick foam numbers on your paperclips and ask children to slide them on your paper in numerical order.

  19. Race cars
    Purchase small toy cars and stick an adhesive number on each one. You will end up with car number 1, car number 2, car number 3, and so on. Invite children to roll the cars from a start line to a finish line in numerical order. Name the numbers appearing on each car with your group.

  20. Animals in their pen
    Use wooden sticks (Popsicle sticks) to delimit small pens on the floor of your daycare. In each pen, draw a number (1 to 5). Ask children to place the corresponding number of animals in each pen. Count the animals together.

  21. Let's punch holes!
    Young children are fascinated with hole-punches. Purchase hole-punches that will make it possible for children to create a variety of tiny shapes. Hold a piece of construction paper in your hands and invite children to use the hole-punches to make holes in your paper. Count the tiny shapes as they fall or, if they are collected in a small reservoir under the hole-punch, empty it from time to time to count the miniature shapes.

  22. Foam numbers
    Glue foam numbers to the tips of long wooden skewers. Encourage children to prick them in an oasis block in numerical order. Count them together.

  23. Circle stamping
    Let children press wine corks in paint and then on a large piece of paper. Encourage them to count the circles as they appear on the paper. Offer a different color of paint and repeat the activity as long as children are having fun to give them several opportunities to count.

  24. Let's play store
    Set up a store area within your daycare. Collect a variety of empty food containers and write fictional prices on each one ($1, $2, or $3). Give each child several plastic coins and invite them to shop in your store. They will have to count the coins required to pay for each item they choose. Prepare for repeat customers!

  25. Toothpick numbers
    At the dollar store, I found thick, colourful toothpicks, but regular toothpicks can work too. Draw large numbers on colourful construction paper. Children will enjoy exploring the numbers in a variety of ways with the toothpicks. You can, for example, ask them to deposit the correct number of toothpicks on each number or have them deposit toothpicks directly on the number outlines. This will help children learn to recognize the different numbers.

Patricia-Ann Morrison



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