preschool curriculum activities Preschool Theme
Counting and Numbers

Early childhood education ideas and activities that encourage counting, observation and listening skills. Number recognition is enhanced as preschool children learn games that promote gross motor development and cooperation.


preschool education

Counting and Number Activity Theme

Another Counting and Number Theme is in the Rainbow Resource Room!

Birthday Cake Counting Game
This teacher made game by Pamela W. encourages number recognition, counting and fine motor skills.

Materials: Wood, drill, paint (for making the board), birthday cards that show a numeral for each age -  up to age 10 and birthday candles.

Description: This is a one or two person game to make for choice time.
To make the board, cut a circle or square from a 2" thick pine board and drill 10 holes 3/8" in diameter part of the way through the board.  Paint the board to look like cake (brown paint with white or pink for frosting looks nice).

To play the game, a child selects a birthday card,  looks at the numeral on the card and puts that number of candles on the cake.  You may need to explain that there is no 'extra candle to grow on' used in this game. You can substitute cut dowels for the candles but the children seem to like the candles better.

An entire Birthday Activity Theme is in the Rainbow Resource Room.

Ice Cream Cone Match Game
Promote visual discrimination and number recognition skills with this early childhood activity by Susan C.

Materials: Brown, green, pink and white tag board.  Colored construction paper, paper punch, scissors, glue or rubber cement, clear contact paper or laminate, and a black felt tip marker.

1.  Trace and cut ice cream cones from brown tag board.  The number 
     prepared should depend on the developmental level of the kids.
2.  Trace and cut ice cream scoops from pink, green and white tag board.
3.  Use paper punch to make dots out of construction paper.
4.  Glue varying numbers on dots onto the ice cream scoops.
5.  Print a number on the ice cream cone that corresponds with the number of 
     dots on the ice cream scoop.
6.  On the back of the ice cream scoop, print the number that corresponds to the  amount of dots on the other side, so the game is self correcting.
7.  Cover all pieces with clear contact paper or laminate.

Math Muffin Tins
Preschool children recognize numbers, count and sort during this activity by Chris.

Materials: Cupcake paper liners, felt tip marker, poker chips or anything they can count and sort.

Description: Teachers with marker, on the muffin liners write numbers 1-10 and then have the kids count and sort that many items into each liner.

Number Hunt
Ali promotes number recognition and encourages preschool children to place numbers in order during this early math activity.

Materials: A set of number cards relevant to your children, 0-10 or 1-5  depending on abilities. Try writing the number and corresponding dots along with the number word on each card.

Description: In advance, teachers discuss the number cards with the children. Next, children sit down and close their eyes, then the teacher hides number cards  around the room. Children now have to find the numbers. When they find the  numbers they arrange them in to order. This activity can be played in the garden where more exciting hiding places can be found.

By cutting different shapes e.g. fish for the number cards the game can be theme based. When using fish, I ask the children to feed a shark with the fish in order. The shark is a cardboard box with a toothy mouth cut in it. If you make a hole in the back of the box you can put your arm inside and grab the fish from the children like a real shark. The children really enjoy learning number concepts this way.

Comments: Just plain numbers are fun but by changing the shape of the numbers the children feel their playing another game and experience a great deal of number concept reinforcement.

For Story time:
Counting & Number books are listed in Preschool Books Listed by Theme

Caps and Cans
The children will move in locomotor and non locomotor ways, use counting skills, and eye hand coordination during this preschool and kindergarten activity by Mae-Lena H.

Materials: Bottle caps, large coffee cans and a permanent marker.

Description: During free play introduce this game to a few children at a time.  With the marker teachers number cans with dots (I used one through six). Let children count the number of dots on each can. Then let children try to toss that many caps into the can. Children will find this fun game among friends, seeing who can get more caps into the cans. 

Comments: This was originally a beanbags and cans activity, but I found that  the beanbags were too large to try and toss into the cans.

Beanbag Fun!
Increase gross motor skills as youngsters identify numbers, letter or shapes with this teacher made game by Wendy U.

Materials: Cardboard box, cardboard, marker and bean bags.

Description: I made a bean bag game out of a cardboard box.  First, I divided the box into 9 squares using cardboard pieces.  I put one number in each spot of the box by writing the number 1-9 on the cardboard squares..  You could also use letters or shapes. The children then toss a bean bag into one of the squares and call out the number they land on.

Comments: This is a fun way to further develop the children's understanding of  numbers, letters or shapes!

People Graph Idea
Kindergarten and preschool children experience creating their own graphs with this idea from Crystal M. that combines counting and letter recognition.

Materials: Children's name tags and number cards.

Description: Ask children to wear their name tags. The teacher stands and the children come and stand in front of the teacher when the teacher says, "Ok, if your name has 1 letter in it come and stand here." The teacher then moves over and goes to the next number (2, 3, 4, etc.).  Ask each child in the front of a line hold a number card that has the number of letters on it.

Then teachers ask questions like, "Which line has the most letters? Which line has the least letters?  Are there any lines that are the same?" 

Comment: Teachers can also make a graph on the board .

Reinforcing Address and Telephone Numbers
Encourage youngsters to learn their address and phone numbers with these three preschool curriculum ideas by Elaine M.

Materials: Heavy paper, access to laminator and permanent felt pens.

1.  We have had a number of children traveling with their families this year.  I have invited the families to send us postcards from their holiday destination.  We look forward to checking the mailbox to see if we have received any mail.  We check out the address, stamp and message.

 2.  We have created place mats that have the children's address, phone  number and a stamp on them.  We laminated the place mats and use them at snack time.  Every day, we check each child's memory of one piece of information on their place mat.

 3.  The name tags that the children put on each day have their first name.  When we are learning phone numbers, I print their phone numbers on the back.  If they are having trouble remembering their telephone numbers, they have the option of checking the back of their name tags!

Comments: Most are pleased when they can tell you their telephone number by heart.

The number concepts of more than and fewer than are promoted during this preschool education activity by Patty.

Materials: Container with separate compartments such as an egg carton or muffin tin. Beads for stringing and strings of equal length.

 Description: Have beads sorted in the compartments according to color. Children "copy" the teacher's pattern of stringing. Increase difficulty of the  pattern by adding more colors and more beads, varying the numbers each time.

Easy to Make Rhymes
When preschool and kindergarten teachers make up simple rhymes as Sherry G. suggests, they promote children's counting skills. 

Materials: Paper (if you want to make charts) and pictures.  I make charts and add 10 of whatever the rhyme is about.

Description: Remember the rhyme One potato, Two potato. I make a rhyme every month to go with what theme we are using - Halloween, Christmas, Apples, Fish etc.  Here are two examples:

One apple, two apples,
 Three apples, four,
 Five Apples, six apple,
 Seven apples more
 Eight apples, nine apples,
 Ten apples in a pie.
 Please give me a piece
 Or I might cry.

 One tree, two trees,
 Three trees, four,
 Five trees, six trees,
 Seven trees more
 Eight trees, nine trees,
 10 trees to decorate.
 Let's get busy,
 It's getting late!

Counting Fingerplay
Sandy M. shares this new twist on an old chant in which preschool children use movement and rote counting skills.

Description: Have children in your circle on their feet, get a beat going with a clap and a stomp & say "Get your potatoes up! And let's count!"  Hold up fists (potatoes) to count with fingers up as indicated:

One potato, two potato, three potato, four!
Well, I made a batch of hot potatoes
(bend forward and stir as in a big pot)
Dropped 'em on the floor!!
(look shocked, and put hands on face in surprise)

Five potato, six potato, seven potato, eight!
So I stomped 'em into mashed potatoes
(stomp feet while walking forward a few  steps and then back)
And plopped 'em on a plate
(hands out like plopping potatoes on a plate!)

Nine potato, ten potato, can't believe my eyes!
(cover and uncover eyes in surprise)
The children ate 'em up and now they want some french fries!!!
(Say to children "how many?" and march with swinging arms and stomping feet while counting...)
 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 fries! 
(jump up and reach over head to sky on 10)
Do the count again, faster and a third time even faster then plop back down to sitting after the last 10. 

This is SO aerobic and the children love the notion of making mashed potatoes by stomping. Also intriguing to them is the faster and faster counting to ten.

Comments: Great for rainy days and to reinforce rote counting in very young children. Preschool children also respond to the familiarity and then novelty of the chant.

Counting Game: Pot of Gold
Raelene J. helps preschool children gain experience with one to one correspondence during this early childhood activity.

Any kind of large bean painted gold, a small plastic cup (like the individual ones that applesauce comes in) painted black, green Shamrocks glued on to heavier stock paper with numbers and the appropriate amount of dots under the number.

Description: Teachers have the child pick a card with a number on it and see if the he / she knows the number.  You then have the child put a gold "nugget" on top of the dots until all of the dots are full.

The children should be counting out loud when they are placing nuggets.  For example, 3 gold nuggets on the dots of the number  3 card.  This will help the children gain better knowledge of one-to-one correspondence.

Comments: The children enjoy playing with the gold nuggets. 
The St. Patrick's Day Activities are in the Rainbow Resource Room.

The Donut Shop Game
Pat shares this circle time game based on a familiar children's song and says, "This game teaches color recognition and counting.  The children love it! "

In advance cut out several different colored donuts from construction paper.  Laminate and place them in a circle.  Children sit in a circle. 

counting song  Song: The Bakery Shop (adapted)
Down around the corner at the bakery shop
There were 9 little donuts with the sugar on top,
Along came (child's name) all alone
She picked up the red one and she ran on home.
The child picks up a colored donut and says the color donut and runs around the circle back to her spot. Repeat the song until all the donuts are gone. 

Counting and number fingerplays, nursery rhymes and action songs are in the Rhyme Theme.  Picture books about numbers are in Preschool Book Themes

Counting Game
Teachers introduce this short rhyme, show young children how to hold their hands in a fist and then act as the first leader.

One Potato, Two Potato
One potato, two potato,
Three potato, four,
Five potato, six potato,
Seven potato, more!
Playing the game:
Preschoolers stand in a circle and hold out their hands in a fist with thumbs up. The leader takes one fist and begins counting off each fist by gently tapping them.  When the leader needs to count his/her counting fist, tap it on the chin. When you get to "more",  put that fist behind your back.  Keep repeating the rhyme over and over until one fist is left. That preschooler is the winner and becomes the new leader.

Counting Speckled Frogs
One of several creative activities contributed by Karen M. This early math puppet activity is based on the rhyme "Five Little Speckled Frogs" which is located in  Preschool Nursery Rhymes about Animals and is also below.

You will need: 
The following rhyme,  a green plastic gardening glove, a black Sharpie marker, a tree branch.

Five Little Speckled Frogs
Five little speckled frogs,
Sitting on a speckled log,
Eating the most delicious bugs, yum, yum.
One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool.
Then there were four speckled frogs.

Continue until only one frog is left

One little specked frog.
Sitting on a speckled log,
Eating the most delicious bugs, yum, yum.
He jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool.
Now there are no speckled frogs.

 "Here's a little different twist to one of the songs / rhymes you have. I took a green plastic gardening glove and a  black Sharpie marker and made "speckles" all over the fingers, then made two eyes and a smile on the outside tip of each finger. l found an old "speckled" tree branch "log" in my yard. 

I held the log with my left hand and "danced" the "frogs" ( my right gloved hand) while singing the song. When one dived into the pool, I jumped my right hand onto the floor space between me and the students and had the "frogs" wiggle around, sometimes touching the students shoes. Each time I took away a frog (folding a finger down) until when none were left I put my hands behind my back and took off the glove. The students really enjoyed the "puppet" show and practiced counting, too."

Additional Number and Counting activities can be found in the
Rainbow Resource Room!

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