How to Teach Numbers to Preschoolers
Do you want to teach numbers to preschoolers but aren’t sure how? Learning how to teach numbers to preschoolers is usually easier than teaching letters. For one thing, there are way less numbers than letters!
When we teach numbers to preschoolers, we need to focus on number recognition. What is number recognition exactly? Number recognition is the ability to visually recognize and name a number. There are three different levels of pre-math skills that young children will go through in order which includes number recognition.
Knowing these 3 different levels will help you learn how to teach numbers to preschoolers.
3 different levels of pre-math skills
- Rote Counting – Rote counting is saying numbers in order from memory, usually 1 through 10 first. This is what toddlers and preschoolers do first, and we get so excited!
- Number Recognition – This is when your preschooler can see a written number and can say the name of that number.
- One-to-One Correspondence – This is a difficult skill to attain, so don’t be stressed if it takes a while for your preschooler or kindergartener to “get it”. One-to-one correspondence is when a child understands that a number corresponds with a specific quantity. They can count the object by pointing to it and saying the number. For example, let’s say there are three pennies on the table. A child that has mastered the one-to-one correspondence skill can point to the first penny and say “one”. Then he can point to the second penny and say “two” then do the same for the third penny.
10 Activities to Teach Numbers to Preschoolers
This blog post will concentrate on how to teach numbers to preschoolers by way of number recognition. Practicing rote counting is fairly easy. Usually just by watching a few educational videos or hearing you count items in front of them often will help toddlers or preschoolers memorize numbers easily. And one-to-one correspondence could be a whole post all by itself!
So let’s explore fun and engaging activities that help teach numbers to preschoolers and kindergarteners! Remember, hands-on activities will help young learners remember information easier than doing worksheet after worksheet at this age.
1. Magnetic Number Match
Buy two sets of number magnets or a set like this. Using a metal cookie sheet, put the numbers 0 through 9 on one side of the cookie sheet and the other 0 through 9 numbers on the other. You can take some washi tape or masking tape and make a line down the middle to separate the two groups, if you want. Then help your child match the numbers (2 with a 2, 3 with a 3, etc).
2. Number Hunt
Buy 2 sets of number flash cards from Dollar Tree or make your own with index cards. Take one set and tape on the walls or on furniture around the house or in one room, either one. Then draw one card at a time from the other set and let your child hunt for the matching number.
3. Number Car Garage
Take your number flash cards and lay on the ground in order from 0 to 10. Tell your child to take his or her Hot Wheel cars and put that number in the “car garage”. Your child can count out the number of cars for each card and line them up behind the number card.
4. Play Dough Mats
There are tons of different kinds of counting play dough mats! You can buy a printable set, print them off, and laminate them. Your preschooler will make play dough shapes to correspond with the mat place them on the mat.
For example, here are play dough mats I created for an activity to go along with the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom book. Children will roll balls of play dough to make coconuts and put the correct number of “coconuts” on the play dough mat. In addition, some play dough mats have the child create play dough “ropes” and shape a number with the ropes.
Play dough is one of my favorite ways to teach numbers to preschoolers!
A childhood favorite, playing hopscotch and saying the numbers out loud while jumping is a great way to teach numbers to preschoolers and kindergarteners.
6. Number Lacing Cards
Some lacing cards have numbers which will help kids know which numbers come next.
7. Magnetic Drawing Number Boards
Magnetic drawing boards like these are so much fun! Preschoolers can also start practicing the strokes to write the numbers, too, with these boards.
8. Cotton Swab Tracing
This easy and cheap activity is a hit with preschoolers! Draw numbers (not too small) on a chalkboard. Then let your child dip a cotton swab in water and trace over the chalk-drawn number with the wet cotton swab. In addition to number recognition skills, it helps with fine motor skills too.
9. Sensory Bin Number Hunt
This hands-on activity will have your preschooler begging to do it again! First, write the numbers 0 through 10 randomly on a sheet of paper, filling up the paper. Next, lay it in the bottom of the bin with the numbers facing up. Use a shallow plastic bin and fill the bottom with uncooked rice or pom-poms or oats, covering the paper. Finally, have your child pick a number flash card that you have stacked up, and hunt for the number he has picked. He will just push aside the rice and find the number on the paper.
Another fun version of this sensory bin number hunt is to hide your magnetic numbers in the bin and let your child draw a number card. Then he can hunt for the number magnets. Number magnets are a fun, hands-on resource that will help teach numbers to your preschoolers and can be used for so many other activities.
10. Dot Sticker Numbers
This activity only requires colored dot stickers or bingo daubers. Using a thick black marker, draw a big number. Next, your preschooler or kindergartener can stick the dot stickers or use the dot markers on the lines of the number. If you have a roll of paper or butcher paper, you can tape a long piece on the wall or floor and do all of the numbers from 0 to 10.
Want to know what I recommend to teach preschool at home?
Are you thinking of teaching your preschooler at home soon? Not sure what he or she will need to keep up with peers in private preschools? With my background in Early Childhood Education (preK through 3rd), I’ve taught in preschools and even taught preschool to my own 4 children, successfully preparing them for kindergarten while following developmentally appropriate practices. So sign up below to get this FREE 16-page guide to the top 10 essentials that I recommend you need to start teaching preschool while saving hundreds of dollars!