How to Teach Counting Numbers to Preschoolers

Dollars. Inches. Minutes.

Numbers are connected to everything we do, which is why preschoolers should learn how to count early on.

Teaching your little ones their 1-2-3s will help grow their math confidence and develop critical thinking skills. Additionally, it will contribute to their success in science and technology throughout their development.

At ChildCare Education Institute, we know understanding counting concepts is an essential part of early learning, and one of the most effective tips for how to teach numbers to preschoolers is to include engaging exercises in your lesson plans.

So look no further and check out our five favorite counting activities below.

 Sensory Bins

Not sure where to begin with teaching kids to count? Sensory play is a wonderful way to introduce number concepts to your little learners.

For instance, this Littlest Book Worms bin activity will bring your lesson to life. Take plastic bowls and fill them with magnetic numbers and washable sensory balls. Then, let your kiddos use mini scoops and tweezers to find each digit. Make sure they recognize each number they find before returning them to the bowls to get the most out of the lesson. This exercise is great for learning sorting, a foundational math skill that teaches your kiddos about similarities and differences.

Number Flash Cards

Another exercise for teachers who want to know how to teach counting is number flash cards. This multi-sensory activity will provide your preschoolers with an understanding of number recognition through sight and touch. Instead of doing the obvious – because reading numbers out loud is boring – we recommend making the lesson more interactive. Arrange the cards in order so that the entire class can see them. Then, ask the class to name each card. For instance, begin by asking, “What does this card say?” Another option is to place the cards on the floor and have your kids step on the number you call out. Dial up the fun and put students in groups for friendly competition. Shout out, “Blue team! Name this card,” and watch as your kiddos enthusiastically participate.

Use Dominoes

This next activity is white with black dots all over.

Dominoes are another helpful learning tool for how to teach numbers to preschoolers because they’re super fun and easy! The dice patterns are perfect for developing number sense and math skills. Additionally, dominoes can be used for teaching addition by adding the number of dots on each tile or lining them up end-to-end. Help them learn the difference between odd and even numbers by grouping corresponding tiles together. You can even write numbers on a piece of paper and let your students match the value using each tile.

Teaching kids to count with dominoes can also improve fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination while making lessons a blast. Get creative and make up your own games or try these five from Forward with Fun!

Count with Stamps

If you’re still wondering how to teach counting to your kiddos, we recommend adding stamps to the list.

An important part of number lessons is making sure your preschoolers understand numbers go beyond symbols. They represent quantities, which is why teaching kids to count shouldn’t be solely about reciting values. There are multiple ways to try this exercise in your classroom, using colorful stamps and construction paper. One way is to have your kiddos cover their sheet with as much ink as their heart desires, then have them count the stamps. You can also try this Craft from the Sea activity.

These different projects will not only make your preschoolers more familiar with counting concepts, but they will also teach them to match and compare different values.

Abacus Play

We saved the best – and oldest – for last.

An excellent way to promote math skills is by using this ancient counting tool. You can choose from a variety of activities when it comes to an abacus (a key reason it’s perfect for learning how to teach counting to preschoolers).

One of our favorites is “Match My Move” where students mimic the number of beads shifted to the opposite side of the frame. You begin by moving the desired number of beads on the top row, and then have your kiddos take turns matching what they see on top with the beads below. A simple counting game will also do the trick! This can be done by moving a certain number of beads to one side and asking them to guess how many are left.

An added bonus is an abacus can be used for teaching the concept of money – since a frame has 100 beads (equaling a dollar). To do this, use a single bead as a penny, five for a nickel, and 10 for a dime.

Want to learn more about classroom topics like how to teach counting? We have a variety of courses that can help!

For starters, check out Mathematical Talk and Play. This two-hour beginner course covers strategies for teaching math by demonstrating different ways to expand your curriculum beyond how to teach counting. You will learn about incorporating advanced concepts such as stable order, one-to-one correspondence, cardinality, and more.

We also offer STEM in Early Childhood Education, which is perfect for learning how you can promote foundational skills using science, technology, engineering, and math.

To learn more about these courses, as well as our entire catalog of online professional development offerings, visit CCEI online today!