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Evergreen Ideas for Counting and Number Recognition

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Imagine teaching counting and number recognition without having to buy expensive resources. Well, you can and I'm here to show you how! Opportunities can EASILY be found every day through play. Hunt through your cupboards and get started with this selection of fun ideas for teaching number:

5 colourful dice, useful for counting
Counting and number recognition


When counting objects, children should be encouraged to line the items up and touch each one as they count. Remind them to say only one number for each object.

  • With the ongoing global pandemic, hand washing provides the ideal chance to practice counting to 20! Encourage your child to count in different voices: loud/quiet/deep/ high/monster/lion, etc.

  • Use loose parts (buttons, pine cones, pom poms, sticks, etc.) to make pictures and then count the number of each item used.

  • Learn number rhymes: e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive; 1, 2 Buckle My Shoe; 5 Little Monkeys, 5 Currant Buns.

Child washing their hands and counting to 20
Encourage children to count to 20 when washing their hands.

  • Count with a puppet. The puppet could make deliberate mistakes for your child/children to correct! They will absolutely love this! Hold up the correct number of fingers as you count.

  • Blow bubbles outdoors – how many can you pop? Who can pop the most? Can you pop more the next time?

Blowing bubbles and counting them
Count the number of bubbles you can pop!

  • Count whilst banging a drum/tambourine, shaking bells.

  • Say a number and ask your child to count that many cubes out of the tub to make a tower.

  • Take a handful of toy dinosaurs (or anything which relates to your child's interests) and count how many you have.

toy dinosaurs for a counting activity
Counting dinosaurs

  • Play sand timer games: how many pegs can you put on a pegboard/beads can you thread/pompoms can you collect with tweezers in 1 minute?

  • Use a parachute full of balls. Throw the balls up and count how many are left in the parachute and how many are on the ground.

  • Challenge children to tidy away 10/20 things at tidy up time! Children love to be competitive and us adults love a tidy room!

Number Recognition

  • Splat the number – lay out number cards on the floor. Give your child a fly swatter to swat the number which is called out.

  • Count together using a giant/mouse/whisper/scary voice, whilst pointing to a large number line.

  • Write down some tiny numbers for the children to read using magnifying glasses.

  • Go on a number hunt - take binoculars and telescopes to aid the search! Can children spot numbers on doors, registration plates, signs, etc?

A child using binoculars
Hunt for numbers using binoculars.

  • Take a handful of cubes each, count them and then find the matching number card.

  • Throw beanbags onto a number target mat (or numbers written in chalk outside).

  • Stick numbers to toy cars and ask children to say the number on their car.

  • Hide numbers outside - challenge children to find and say the numbers.

  • Put numbers in a bag or hat - children pick a number out and say it.

cubes for children to count
Count cubes and find the matching numeral.

  • Make numbered road signs for children to drive their toy cars past.

  • Write numbers on tiny pieces of paper and screw them up into a ball. Children can pick one using tweezers, open out and read the number with a magnifying glass.

  • Make numbers using feathers. Arrange the feathers in the shape of a numeral on card and stick them down. Ask your child to trace over each number with a finger.

  • Write numbers on paper plates - children attach the correct number of pegs to each one. For example, if the plate has a number 5 written on it, they will clip 5 pegs around outside.

  • Make the imprint of numbers into playdough. Children roll a marble around each number to get used to how it is formed. They will initially need the support of an adult to ensure that they form the number correctly.

tiny numbers written on pieces of paper
Read tiny numbers using a magnifying glass.

So, get searching through your house or classroom for resources and try out some of these great activities today. Hopefully you've found the ideas in this post useful, simple and most of all - FUN!

Counting and Number Recognition - What Next?

Check out these engaging downloadable games and activities!

You will find a collection of my favourite number resources here!*

If you like the look of these activities, make sure that you also take a look at:

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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