Learning and understanding numbers is a skill preschoolers and kindergarteners have to master. Exposure starts early – numbers are everywhere! – but when it’s time to teach kids numbers, you might wonder how you can make it fun and interactive.
Learning should always be fun after all!
Teaching numbers to your child is simple. Most children pick up numbers quicker than letters, and since they see numbers everywhere, it’s easy for them to figure them out. However, comprehension takes more time than recognition, so be patient!
Related: 16 Activities to Introduce Counting and Math to Your Toddler
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When to Teach Kids Numbers?
Exposure to numbers starts early. How many times have you counted your babies toes aloud?
However, you can start introducing numbers to your child between 18 months and 2 years old. Around this age, they will enjoy number rhymes and number books. You may count simple objects like two apples or three cats.
Many kids pick up numbers one through five without parents needing to make too much effort because they’re used so regularly.
For example, ask your child to hand you one block or two cars. These simple daily tasks encourage comprehension without any added work for anyone!
What Age Should a Child Recognize Numbers?
Around the age of two years old, some children start to recognize numbers, but this is not a standard milestone. Some children recognize numbers and letters faster than others. So, don’t be surprised if it takes considerably longer for your child to recognize numbers.
Sometimes, it takes until four to five years old for kids to identify numbers on a regular basis. This shouldn’t concern you; sometimes, it takes longer for some kids, but they’ll catch on quickly.
How to Teach Kids Numbers
Once you’re ready to teach kids numbers, here are some of my favorite tips and tricks to try. Learning numbers is easier and more fun than you imagine!
1. Use Number Rhymes and Songs
Number rhymes and songs are one of the easiest ways for preschoolers and kindergarteners to learn numbers. You might not realize you know a lot of number rhymes already. Here are some of my kids’ favorites!
- 10 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
- The Ants Are Marching
- One Two Buckle My Shoe
- This Old Man
- Three Blind Mice
When you sing these songs and rhymes, make sure you show your fingers so your child can relate the number to however many fingers you hold up.
2. Get Number Toys
Kids learn best when playing, so hands-on number toys are one of the best ways for kids to learn their numbers. It gives them opportunities to manipulate objects and make connections in their brain with the numbers.
Numbers are an abstract idea by themselves, but preschoolers and kindergarteners learn best when they work with the concrete. Math skills need to start off as concrete before moving to the abstract, so number toys give kids the chance to see, touch, and understand what numbers look like before needing to work abstractly.
When I saw number toys, I don’t mean toys that count out loud. Instead, you need to work with your child to help them learn.
Here are some of my favorite number toys for preschoolers and kindergarteners.
1. Prextex Find and Match Number Eggs
This toy has eggs that come apart and kids have to match the eggs together. Not only are these little Easter eggs actual egg size, but this helps with color recognition skills in toddlers.
2. Melissa & Doug Self-Correcting Number Puzzles
I’m a huge fan of all things Melissa & Doug for educational toys. These self-correcting number puzzles have the number on one side and objects on the other puzzle piece, working from one to 20. I also love the M&D includes a storage box so the puzzle pieces stay together.
Your child has to match the number with the correct number of objects and put the puzzle pieces together.
3. Learning Resources Smart Counting Cookies
Learning Resources understands how kids learn, and these smart counting cookies help kids learn to recognize, count and compare numbers with the soft cookies. The cookies have raised chocolate chips so kids can count how many chips are in each cookie. Then, they have to the matching number cookie.
4. Montessori Peg Number Board
This number board is a great way to connect numbers and objects for your preschoolers. First, they have to identify the number on each board, and then, they have to put the correct number of sticks on each board. It’s self-correcting because there are only the correct number of holes for each number.
5. Learning Resources Smart Snacks Number Pops
Here is another awesome math toy – Learning Resources Number Pops. Kids work on early math and fine motor skills. They have to match the removable number cover with the pop with the correct number of dots. The set works for numbers one to ten.
3. Work with Number Puzzles
Puzzles is another way to encourage kids to learn and recognize their numbers. My kids love puzzles; they’re an easy way to combine play and recognizing letters and numbers.
My favorite number puzzle is the Melissa & Doug See-Inside Numbers Puzzle. It has little pegs making it easy to practice those grasping and fine motor skills.
4. Count Fingers and Toes
One of the easiest and best ways to teach kids numbers is to count fingers and toes. This is one of the best ways to work on numbers with toddlers.
Once you count their toes and fingers, start asking how many toes they have or how many fingers you are holding up.
5. Incorporate Numbers into Daily Life
You see numbers all the time, so incorporate those into your daily life. Point them out to your child as you dial a phone number, look at the clock, or numbers on your shopping list.
If your child helps set the table, have them give each plate a fork and count them as they go. You can count pieces of fruit on their lunch plate or goldfish in their snack bag.
Numbers are everywhere!
6. Read Number Books
I think books are a great way to teach kids anything – they’re a gateway for learning. Number books show kids numbers and corresponding objects, and they help expose your child to different ideas about numbers and early math skills.
Believe it or not, you can find all sorts of amazing number books to expose your child to counting. They won’t even realize they’re learning!
Here are a few of my favorites.
- Five Little Monkeys Jumping on The Bed by Eileen Christelow
- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
- Counting Crocodiles by Judy Sierra
- One Fox: A Counting Book by Kate Read
- Blue Ridge Babies 1, 2, 3: A Counting Book by Laura Sperry Gardner
- My First Counting Book by Lilian Moore
7. Use Printables
Printables are one of my favorite learning tools to use because they’re so versatile, and you really can find printables for everything.
Whether you want to work on number recognition, writing numbers, or putting numbers in order, you can find printables – free and paid – that do just that!
The best place to get started with counting and number printables is right here. I have some free ones available for parents to use.
- Thanksgiving Counting and Numbers Printables
- Halloween Counting Printables: Free Printables for Preschoolers
- Turkey Counting Feathers Activity Free Printable
- Free Printable Winter Counting Clip Cards for Preschool
8. Point Out Numbers
Numbers are everywhere! You see them on vehicles, signs, and everywhere else. When you’re at the store, you see signs that list of the cost of items – numbers.
When you drive down the street, you see speed limit signs.
Numbers are everywhere, and the more you point them out to your child, the more kids start to recognize them.
9. Connect Dots for the Order of Numbers
Not only do you need to teach kids numbers, but you also have to teach the order of the numbers. One of best ways to do this is to connect dots.
You can print connect the dot printables or make them yourself at home! Use chalkboard to make a shape with numbered dots, and have your child connect the dots to discover the shape. Always let your child color the shape after they complete the order of the numbers.
10. Use Flashcards
Flashcards are great for some kids, and they’re one way to introduce numbers zero to nine to your child. You can use flashcards in many ways like having your child arrange the numbers in the correct sequence, or use them to play number Go Fish.
I use Go Fish as a way to teach kids numbers and letters, and all kids love it!
All parents have to teach kids numbers, but it’s easier than you think! Try these fun activities to get your child interested in numbers, and, most importantly, remember to incorporate learning letters into their daily lives. They pick up numbers so well!