Teaching Numbers & Counting
Ready to teach your little one numbers, but don’t even know where to start? Let me share with you what I have been doing to teach my little ones, and maybe you’ll find some inspiration. I am really big about teaching through play, so when it comes to lesson time I choose to pull out games and toys to make learning fun!
I recommend starting these lessons around 18-24 months, or whenever they are able to repeat words after you. Here are some ideas that you can easily do in your own home:
Easy to make, and fun to look at. All you have to do is get some construction paper or cardstock, cut out some images (mine are carrots) and make your own counting cards.
Sit your little one down and show him the “1″ card. Say, “This is one. One carrot. How many carrots are there?”
Have your child repeat after you, “One.” Then praise him, “Good!! One!”
If you lose your child’s attention after only one card, don’t worry about it. You can only teach the numbers one at a time, and you got one in, so that’s a start! Little ones, especially boys, have very short attention spans. Don’t push it. I’d suggest doing the same thing the next day, and if he will sit longer, then go to number 2.
If you can get your child to sit through number three, stop there. Make sure that he is able to count the pictures on the cards up to three before you introduce more cards.
Ask him, “Where is one?” He should be able to point to the card showing one. “Where is two?” He should be able to point out two. Do the same for three. When he is able to distinguish which card represents which number, you are ready to move on.
Keep doing the lessons like this until he can count the pictures by himself. He will learn to sit longer each time, especially if you make it interesting.
Puzzles are great. I got this one from the dollars store.
To use a puzzle for lessons, sit down with your child and play with him and the toy. Tell him the name of each number that he is putting back. Have him repeat the numbers after you. Take the numbers and play with them, giving them funny voices and talking to your child with them. (Deep voice) “Hi, I”m six! I have a big belly! What’s your name?” Be silly, he’ll love it!
Counting Bears & Chips:
I think I got these at Walmart. They are a fun way to have your child learn to count quantities. Really you can do this with anything from around the house! Just set them in front of your child and help him count them. Start with a small amount, and work your way up as he learns.
I found these at a yard sale. I like to give them all different, silly voices and use them to tell my child what the number’s “name” is and describe it a little. Then I will sit them in front of my child and ask him to point out a few numbers.
Flashcards with numbers on one side and pictures on the other side are always fun. I like to sit my child down, show him the number and tell him what it is, then turn it over and count how many objects are on the other side. It’s always like a reward for them to see what picture is hiding on the back. Once you get through a few numbers, review by asking your child to point to certain numbers, “Okay, where is the three?” Child points to the three. “Good job! That is the three!” “Where is the two?” Child points to the wrong card. “Uh-oh! You’re close! That’s the one, where is the two?” Help him if he can’t find it. Then give lots of praise!
Books about numbers and those which encourage counting are a great addition to lesson time! Kids love looking at books, and won’t even realize they are learning too. Mine happen to be in Spanish, but these two books are good ones, and you can also find their English versions.
You can easily make cards like these for a dot pattern matching game.
First, put out the number one card, it’s matching dot pattern card, the number two card and it’s matching dot pattern card. Have your child match the number cards with their corresponding dot pattern cards. Once he is able to do that, add more cards for him to match. Encourage him to count the dots on the dot pattern cards and find the corresponding number.
Smart Snacks Counting Cookies:
We LOVE this toy! Playing with these and your child is a great way to reinforce learning numbers and counting. (You can find them on Amazon, or Toys R Us.)
Pretend that you are starving, and you’d like to eat some cookies. Tell your child, “I’m so hungry! Can I please have the number two to eat?” If your child hands you the correct cookie, pretend to devour it. If your child hands you the wrong cookie, act disgusted, or pretend to cry, and ask again for the number two. Do this until they get it right. Kids always think it’s funny to see you acting so dramatically!
You can get these at Walmart for really cheap. Even meal time can become a learning experience if you have the right mindset! You can even have your child count out his snacks. Or ask him if he wants one or two? Using numbers and counting during snack time is another fun way to have a lesson in disguise!
I found some of these for really cheap at a yard sale, but you can also get them from Amazon, or maybe Toys R Us.
I like to link them together in numerical order in a hop-scotch style. Then I play hopscotch with the kids, naming the numbers I land on as I go. Encourage your child to do the same. You can also have them hop on certain numbers as you call them out.
One Two Three, Jesus Loves Me
Ten Little Indians
5 Little Ducks (went out to play)
This Old Man (he played one)
Five Little Monkeys
Remember, mixing up the number activities keeps it interesting. Whatever you do, have fun! And if your child loses interest quickly, and you can’t get his attention back, that’s okay! A little at a time goes a long way. Just dedicate a few minutes each day and in no time your child will know his numbers and be able to count to ten and beyond!
*You can also use these lessons for teaching numbers in Spanish!
If you have any creative tips for teaching numbers, I’d love to hear what you do in your home!