3 Simple Numbers and Counting Activities

Here are my three current favorite numbers and counting math activities for my 4-year-old.  He really likes these and so do I!  I’ve noticed a big improvement in his interest in numbers and his number sense since we’ve started these.  

Luke is not overly enthusiastic about math, so I love that we can sneak these activities into really short periods of time and that they’re pretty fun, and require virtually no setup, so you can pull them out anytime you have an extra minute or two!

3 Simple Numbers and Counting Activities

numbers and counting

1.  Counting on an abacus — We do counting by 1’s and counting by 10’s on the abacus so far.  See this post for more details.  Before we started this, I never heard Luke count items of more than 10 on his own during play.  Since we’ve done this for the past two months or so, I now hear him count items into the teens and twenties with perfect one-to-one matching.  My 2-1/2 year old can now count items up to 10 with one-to-one matching, too! 🙂

numbers and counting

2.  0-99 Number Cups — I got the idea from this pin.  I wrote 0-9 around the rim of two plastic cups (saved from restaurants) in two different colors of marker.  You can make any number from 00-99 by turning the cups.  

numbers and counting numbers and counting
numbers and counting
numbers and counting

We play several different “games” with the number cups.  

  1. He makes a number and reads it.  
  2. I’ll make a number and he reads it. 
  3. I’ll call out a number and he makes it. 
  4. He’ll call out a number and I’ll make it.
  5. We’ll do a random spin of the cups and read a number.
  6. We’ll do a random spin of the cups and then read the numbers all the way around the rim before turning the cups again.
  7. I’ll write a number on paper and have him make it with the cups.
  8. We’ll talk about a real-life number (i.e. “Daddy will be 31 on his birthday.” or “There are 56 pages in this book.”) and then make the number with the cups.
  9. I’ll ask a question that has a number answer and he will answer by making the number with the cups.  (“What number was the Richard Petty “The King” race car?” A: 43)
  10. We’ll make a number and then I’ll ask what number comes before or after it.

Yeah, yeah…I admit that the average person may not call these games…BUT…if you smile, call it a game, AND use your happy voice when you play, you may be surprised at what you can pass as a “game” with a preschooler. 😉 
We keep the cups sitting on the kitchen table so that we pick them up often to play with for a few minutes here and there; we seldom use these for any sustained activity…we’ll make 2-3 different numbers and then move on to something else.  

numbers and counting

When Luke has mastered 0-99, I’ll add a 3rd cup (like pictured in the original pin) and he’ll be able to do numbers up to 999.  His favorite number to make with the two cups is 99–he makes that number first EVERY time.

numbers and counting

3. 100s Charts Activities — I’ve been printing and using these hundreds charts coloring activities from Lil’ Country Kindergarten.  The child is given a 100 chart with a key at the top to tell them what numbers to color a certain color.  In the end, they’ve created some sort of picture.  We’ve done two so far (the Valentine’s one in February and the Cat in the Hat in March) and I’ve sat with Luke and helped guide him through both.  This is definitely a challenging activity for him, so sometimes I break it up and we do one color in one sitting and the other at a different time because I don’t want him to get frustrated.

numbers and counting
Luke completed this one around Valentine’s Day.
You can print these here.


We completed The Cat in the Hat this month on two separate days.
We split the black numbers into two separate times, too, since
there were so many black numbers to color.
You can print these here.

Does your child have any favorite numbers and counting activities?

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