Toddlers go through such incredible brain development, more than at any other moment during our lifetime. When it comes to learning, they are like sponges, absorbing all the information around them. It’s the perfect moment to introduce them to numbers. There’s no right age to start learning numbers, as some children will be able to recognise numbers shapes as early as 12 months!
However, teaching them in a fun manner can be quite a challenge, especially if you’re not a big fan of maths yourself. But learning about numbers doesn’t have to be boring! Children learn best when they play. We’ve gathered this list of fun activities to teach your toddler to love numbers. Each activity requires a few materials that you probably already own!
The easiest way to Introduce your child to learning numbers is to hunt numbers wherever you go. Look out for bus numbers, doors and cars numbers plates. Numbers are everywhere you go so this should be easy to find. Whenever you see a number say it out loud. When you take the stairs, count each step. You little one will get excited whenever you see a number and will remember them much more quickly as you see the same ones over and over again.
“We just count everything: stairs, goldfish, cars etc.” Sam
“Count the steps as you walk up them, they will start doing it on their own.” Liza
As we mentioned in a previous article, music and learning go perfectly together. Toddlers are having so much fun that they have no idea they’re learning! Nursery rhymes are essential to children’ development. There are plenty available out there to teach your child numbers so we’ve selected five we think are amazing:
“We used dice and set up an exercise station for each number. If they rolled a six they did jumping jacks, if they rolled a 2 then they threw a baseball… and my kids would count the dots on the dice and go do that specific station. It was super fun!” Melissa
This is an easy DIY, especially if you don’t have any toys for your child to learn numbers. You will only need everyday ingredients to make your own playdough, and it’s entirely safe to use!
- A dash of oil
- Food colouring
1. Print an image with all the numbers written big (you can download playdough mats online or draw them on a sheet of paper if you don’t have a printer at home!).
2. Lay the piece of paper on a table and leave the playdough in a bowl next to it.
3. Let your child draw the shape of each number with the mixture.
You can also put it all in a tray if you want the cleaning process to be easier. Another alternative is to use salt instead of playdough!
“Look up for free printable playdough counting mats online. There are loads of different types. Good for number concept but also for fine motor and sensory development.” Emma
“Fill up a zip lock bag with water paint and lil person can learn to write numbers with no mess. Also having cream on the wall of the bath or a table.” Alexis
“Drawing them in sand, flour etc. I wish I’d invested more time in my children forming them correctly.” Annarella
This can be easily done in different ways. Here’s the one we used for today:
Here’s what you will need:
- A large piece of paper (preferably bigger than A4 if you have it)
- Some cups with the number written down at the bottom
1. Lay the sheet of paper on a flat surface
2. Turn the cups upside down
3. Your child just needs to match each cup with the right number.
Cups are definitely safer to use but if you don’t have any you can use buttons, clothes pegs, bottle caps or sticks (like the ice cream ones). You could also use a magnetic board and some number magnets or print out a matching number activity from online. It’s really up to you and what you have available at home.
“We got our kids magnetic boards and magnet numbers and alphabet.” Bronwyn
This is a fantastic activity that doesn’t need a ton of material! Here’s what you’ll need:
- two paper plates (or some cardboard)
- A few markers or drawing pens
- A pair of scissors
- Optional: stickers
1. Divide each plate in 10 slices using a black marker
2. Cut one of them into slices following the lines.
3. Once you have the slices all cut, draw some dots (or put some stickers) on each slice, making sure you have every number from 1 to 10. e.g. 6 dots to represent number 6.
4. Write down numbers on the other plate.
That’s all! Your child will have fun trying to match each number. Click here to download free pizza worksheets for children.
“Use index cards and write each number and put dots to represent the number. Give m&m’s to place on the dots. Start with number 1 and add a number each day” Jodi
As mentioned in a previous blog post, convincing your child to clean can sometimes feel impossible. This great and super simple activity is not only good for counting but also for tidying up!
1. Make a number line with painter’s tape on the floor.
2. Lay shoes, toys or stuffed animals to match the number.
How simple and genius is that?!
“Sorting fruits loops by colours and count each pile, show each number to him one at a time and clap it out...my turn, your turn.” Jan
If you don’t have painter’s tape available at home, you can also download this printable number line worksheet.
1. Print out or draw a cute drawing (could be an animal, a bug or whatever you prefer)
2. Cut the piece of paper into 10 strips.
3. Write down numbers from 1 to 10 on each one.
That’s it! Let your child put the pieces together in the right order. It’s a great way to learn numbers without forcing your child to do so! Here’s one cute image of Pepe and his friends that you can directly print!
Every children is different and not everything will work for your child. However, there are other methods that works for most children such as going to class or reading books. Lessons are a great way for children to learn plenty of skills, like how to count in Spanish, our students have learnt to do so effortlessly and in a very short amount of time!
Bilingual books are also a great tool to learn numbers in different languages. Children are so focused on the book itself that they’re not realising they’re learning! We kept that in mind when creating our book. Every story teaches children different skills that they’ll use everyday. We have, for example, a fun story with bubbles that helps them learning numbers! It’s a very easy and effective way to get them to learn..
What tips and tricks do you have for other parents?