Homeschool Preschool: Numbers

Need ideas for teaching your child numbers? Start here! 

* Count everything! Count shoes on your child's feet, count fingers and toes, blocks, how many grapes are on his plate, count swings at the park - you name it. At first, stick to counting up to 3, followed by counting up to 5, then 10.

* Use rhymes to make counting easier. For example, "1, 2, 3, buzz like a bee! 4, 5, 6, play with sticks!"

* Ask your child if she can write any numbers. (She might surprise you!) Then, using her favorite way to draw (a Doodlepro, crayons, chalk, whatever) show her how to write 1 and 0. Then show her how you can "magically" use those numbers to create 10. From there, begin introducing the easiest to write numbers.

* Help your child see familiar shapes in numbers. For example, you could say the number 1 is just a straight line and that the number two is half a cookie sitting on a plate.

* Trace numbers. You can purchase sandpaper numbers at an educational supply source, but they are pricey. Instead, you can make your own, or simply have your child paint over printed numbers with a paintbrush and water. When your child is ready, have him write numbers in the sandbox or in a baking pan of rice.

* Write numbers with chalk on concrete. Most children find it easier to write large, so encourage your child to make huge numbers.

* Play sorting games.

* Feed a toy animal according to numbers. Pick one of your child's favorite stuffed or plastic animals, along with some M&Ms or other fun food. Write a number on a Doodlepro or piece of paper and have your child "feed" that many M&Ms to the animal.

* Play clapping and rhythm games. First you clap a certain number of times, then your child mimics you.

* Look for numbers wherever you go. For example, you'll find them on signs, clocks, clothes, books, and magazines. Challenge your child to find as many numbers as possible when you go shopping together.

* Play store. Gather together items like play food, books, and toy animals, and ask your child to "purchase" a certain number of each.

* Play Simon Says. Include commands like, "Simon says pat your head two times."

* Hold a tea party. Have your child set three dolls or stuffed animals at the table. Have her pass out one cup for each, then have her count how many cups there are altogether. Have your child give each animal a different type of food; for example, one might get a two graham crackers, while another might get one chocolate chip cookie. Then have your child count how many each animal has.

* Sort laundry. Have your child pull all the socks from the clean library and sort them according to size. For example, Daddy's socks are very big and can go all in one location, while your child's socks are small, and should go into another. Now help your child count how many socks are in each pile, then teach him to match socks.

* Make fruit trees. Cut five rectangles from brown construction paper, then five wavy circles from green construction paper. Show your child how to put the shapes together to make five different trees. Paste them on another piece of paper. Cut 15 circles from construction paper; let your child decide whether they should be red, like cherries or apples, or orange like oranges, etc. Write a number, 1 - 5, on the trunk of each tree and help your child paste that number of fruits onto each tree.

* "Me, too!" When your child says "me, too!" answer him "me three!" As he learns his numbers, soon you'll be going back and forth, all the way to "me ten!"

* Count ice cubes. Fill a bowl, pitcher, or other object with water or juice. Place it in the tub, for neatness' sake. Fill another bowl with ice cubes. Ask your child to add once ice cube at a time, counting as she goes. How many ice cubes can she add before the liquid overflows?

* Make countdown chains. Anytime there is a holiday, birthday, or other special event coming, help your child make a paper chain to count down the days. For added emphasis, write a number on each chain, to mark the days.

* Make a lapbook of numbers. Print out colorful numbers, 1 - 10. Help your child paste one number on a piece of paper, then draw or paste objects (like people from magazines, photos of friends and family, beans, or drawn pictures) on the pages to represent the numbers. Punch holes in the pages, add a file folder cover, and tie the pages together to create a book.

* Purchase number cookie cutters - and use them.

* Try a good counting video. We like Winnie the Pooh's 1, 2, 3s. Without it, my daughter may never have learned to count :)

More Articles in the Homeschool Preschool Series:

Why Homeschool Preschool? 
Thoughts on Readiness 
How Much Time? 
Scissor Skills
Colors & Shapes
The Balance Beam Game


  1. Great suggestions!

    My daughter loves to climb up on a chair while I'm cooking (especially baking) and count items I'm prepping. Usually she gets it right, but sometimes she skips or double-counts something. :)

    What's REALLY surprising is she isn't even 3 1/2, and she knows ALL her letters. You give her a book or a cereal box or anything, really, with letters, and she can read off the individual letters. Getting her to understand that put together, they're words, that's going to take a bit more work. :D

  2. Liberty, kids love to learn - it's just a matter of what interests them. My daughter knew her phonics before she could actually speak words!

  3. Yeah... she wants to learn to cook and sew right now... The kid-sized sewing machine I've seen at JoAnn's says 6+ for age, but she's seen it and she wants one. *sigh* I let her help me cook, though--she can pour seasonings into the bowl for me as long as she puts her hands behind her back when I've got the mixer on.

  4. She might be able to learn to do some simple handsewing. Check this out:

  5. Awesome! Can't wait to try this!

  6. Thanks for posting your ideas here. I admit that I some of these game ideas were never in my mind and I'm so thankful to read it here. Thanks! Child Care