One of my favorite things to do with my little ones is count. I start counting with them from almost birth and by the time they are able to talk on their own, they can easily join me in counting. It is so fun to watch them grow and learn. But I have to be honest with you…teaching little ones kinda stresses me out.
Counting is one of those basic skills every child needs to learn. And that’s what scares me. What if they don’t get it? What if they never remember their numbers in order? What if they never figure out how to count to one hundred? And the list goes on.
But, I learned a long time ago that it didn’t have to be so hard. And after six kids, I can tell you we definitely take a more learn-through-play approach with our little ones now versus a more formal learning approach. My oldest was lightyears ahead of his age, so it took me a while to realize that kids really do learn best at their own pace.
I learned that some kids may struggle with counting more than others, but it doesn’t have to be tedious and boring. It can be a lot of fun given the right tools. So I wanted to share with you some of the fun ways we incorporate counting skills into our little one’s everyday lives.
Don’t forget to scroll down for your printable counting pack! It’s FREE for a limited time only!
Count As You Dress
When my oldest was little, I remember my Mom staying with us as I recovered from an illness. I was dressing him and buttoning his shirt when she stopped me and asked what I was doing. I responded with a strange look simply said I was dressing him. She pointed out that I was counting to him as I buttoned his shirt and asked why, because he was too young to comprehend. And I remember saying, “It’s never too early to start.”
That stuck with me as each kid came into our family. I still do it when I’m helping my little ones and it really has helped each of them learn to count. It may not always register what they are doing, but they are learning – even from a young age.
Count As You Clean
Another thing I did with my kids from a young age was count as we cleaned. At first, we start with counting as we put toys in the bucket or bin. As they get a little older, I tell them to bring me five cars or ten crayons. And then as they get a little more comfortable with counting on their own, I have them count to me as they drop the items in the correct buckets.
This is also a fun way to motivate them to pick up quickly and get it all done. I still use this to get my kids motivated while we clean.
Play a Game
When my oldest was little, I had four kids under the age of 5, my husband worked nights and I was on my own most of the time. One of his favorite things to do with me was play games. But with four young children, who never stopped moving, it was hard to find the time. So I came up with the “paper bag game”. He loved it and we played it almost every day!
All you need is a paper bag and a list – either in your head or on paper. I did this with both colors and numbers. Here’s how it works. Grab a paper bag and have your child hold it. Send them off with a “task” of gathering a certain number of an item – seven cars, three dolls, etc. Once they know how to count and are learning their colors, you can add those too!
Sorting and Counting
From a young age, my kids have all loved sorting their toys. Whether it be by size, color or item, they sorted it. You can easily do this with items from your house, but we always loved sorting pom-poms into a dish with multiple spaces. You can do it by color and then have them count the number of pom-poms in each section.
But don’t stop with those. You can sort rocks by numbers or marbles if your kids are old enough not to stick them in their mouth (or nose – don’t ask!).
My kids still love playdough. And while you need to be careful using it with little ones, playdough mats are a wonderful way to teach them how to count. Plus, you get in some fine motor skills practice while they work. We have more than 40 different playdough mats here for you to choose from, but you can easily make your own too! All you need is some playdough, a printer and a laminator and you’re set for hours of practice and entertainment!
Check out all our other PreK Packs!
From the Garden: A Counting Book About Growing Food (Know Your Numbers)1, 2, 3 to the Zoo: A Counting BookHow Do Dinosaurs Count To Ten?Goodnight, NumbersRichard Scarry’s Best Counting Book EverChicken Break!: A Counting Book
Little ones will love working on their counting skills with this Farm Girl themed pack. This 16-page pack includes practice pages for each number (1-10), two color-by-number pages, number matching, and a counting page.
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Download the Farm Girl Counting Practice Pack
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