Tips for Teaching Numbers to Toddlers

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Teaching numbers and counting to toddlers can be a whole lot of fun! I have put together lots of helpful tips and ideas for getting your kids excited about learning to count and identify numbers this school year and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Plus, there are some great printables you won’t want to miss for learning numbers with toddlers at home or in the classroom.

Ready to explore lots of books, songs, printables, toys, and games for teaching numbers to toddlers? Keep reading to get the very best tips for teaching numbers to your early learners.

Number writing practice pages for tracing and learning numbers

How to teach your toddler numbers

Teaching numbers to toddlers at an early age will help your kids to build a strong foundation in math at an early age. Teaching numbers can be challenging, but there are lots of ways to help your toddler learn numbers while having fun too. Here are my favorite ways to teach your toddler numbers:

Play with Number Toys

Maria Montessori famously said “Play is the work of the child.” Therefore, one of the best ways to help our kids learn important concepts is through play. It’s especially effective for young children. Teaching numbers to toddlers through play helps them to explore numbers in a concrete way that allows them to see and touch numbers.

Here are some of my favorite toys for exploring and teaching numbers:

Count every day

You’ll be surprised by how quickly your toddlers begin to memorize numbers just by counting out loud. Rote counting is a fantastic way to help your toddlers begin to build familiarity with numbers and counting skills. To practice numbers with toddlers, count together every day.

teach numbers with toddlers by learning to count

Here, my daughter is counting with her Megabloks. I set out numbered bath toys and she practiced identifying the number and placing that many blocks under each number. This is just one example of an easy way to incorporate number recognition and counting into daily play.

You don’t need much to practice this skill at home though. Here are some ideas for making counting a natural part of your day:

  • Count steps or stairs as you go up and down
  • Count out snacks like grapes, crackers or gummies
  • Show toddlers how to count their fingers or toes
  • Count socks from the laundry basket while you fold

Read number books

I love reading to toddlers and kids of all ages. Reading isn’t just a good way to help toddlers learn numbers, it’s also a really good way to help your kids fall in love with books.

As you read aloud, kids will build language skills, learn important early reading skills, and develop an interest in books. Plus, with counting books, you can teach numbers to your toddler in a way that’s fun and engaging.

Here are some of our favorite number books for you to try with your toddlers at home and in the classroom:

preschool number books
  • 123 Count with Me by Georgia Birkett – This exciting counting book also helps toddlers practice learning numbers while building fine motor skills as they trace numbers with their fingers on each page.
  • Goodnight Numbers from Danica McKellar – This bedtime counting book is part of a set of 6 books geared towards teaching numbers to toddlers.
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss – This whimsical classic will give your kids the giggles and help them learn important early numeracy skills at the same time.
  • No, No Dinos by Kate Stone – This fun story is perfect for your little dinosaur fans! It’s filled with hidden counting fun and silly pictures toddlers can enjoy while getting some hands-on number practice during story time.
  • Chicka Chicka 123 – This adorable twist on the popular alphabet book is a great way for toddlers to learn numbers to 100.

Sing counting songs

Another really fun way to teach numbers is by using counting songs and finger plays. Learning numbers with music and songs will help your toddlers remember lots of important concepts. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! Here are a few of our favorite counting songs to sing together:

  • 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
  • One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
  • One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Once I Caught a Fish Alive 
  • 5 Little Speckled Frogs

Use Number Crafts to Teach Numbers

Number crafts are an easy and hands on way to teach numbers to kids. These adorable crafts are sized to fit into your students notebooks and are great when paired with my number worksheets.

interactive number notebook for kindergarten

Grab my interactive number notebook bundle and reinforce the numbers your kids learn in your next number of the week theme. It’s a fun way to learn and get crafty this school year.

Teaching Toddlers to Recognize and Identify Numbers

You might be wondering if your toddler is really ready to start identifying numbers and counting to 10. At what age do toddlers begin to recognize numbers?

Toddlers as young as 12 months old begin recognizing numbers. By the time your toddler is 3 years old, they may even start writing numbers! You can encourage numbers with toddlers in lots of fun ways. Have fun teaching numbers to toddlers with books, songs, games, toys and printables. 

How do you know your child is beginning to grasp early numeracy concepts? Ask your toddler how old they are and you’ll see him or her raise the correct number of fingers. When children can do this, it means they have begun to understand that numbers have meaning. It’s the perfect age for teaching numbers. Many toddlers easily grasp numbers 1-3, so work to teach your toddler numbers 0-10. 

Toddlers can also begin to understand number concepts like “more than” and “less than” at this age and will quickly tell you if a friend has more cookies or fruit snacks than they do. Incorporate teaching numbers to toddlers throughout your day with various counting and sorting activities to help your toddler learn numbers easily. 

Counting Activities and Printables

There are so many fun number learning activities you can use when teaching numbers to toddlers. We love coloring pages, counting games, and finger plays. Here are some of our favorites counting activities and printables: 

Number Writing Practice Worksheets

One of my favorite ways to ensure we are grasping numbers is with these number writing practice worksheets. Your children can practice working with numbers 1-20 in several different ways using these number worksheets.

Number writing practice pages for tracing and learning numbers

Fine motor skills will be enhanced with these number tracing pages as your students color, dab, write, and trace each number. They also will build on their math skills as they practice identifying numbers, counting, and building with ten frames. These number worksheets are definitely the complete package.

Printable Counting Activities

Teaching numbers to toddlers is a lot of fun when you have hands on games like this St Patricks Day number recognition activity.

leprechaun beard building activity

Your little learners will love building the leprechauns beard in this super low prep math game. As your students choose a number card, they will identify the number and place that many pom poms on the leprechaun’s beard.

Do you need more number printables for your students? Here are several more number activities your toddlers will love to play!

There are so many hands-on ways to incorporate counting activities into your daily lessons and play with your toddler too! You can teach numbers to toddlers without them even realizing it! Here are some of our favorite ways to teach numbers while playing:

Number Scavenger Hunts

Another fun number printable for kids to do are these number scavenger hunt activities. Kids love them because they get to be up and moving and you’ll love them because it’s 100% educational!

number printables for kids

All you need to do is download the free winter counting freebie and hang the cards around the room. Send your students off to find a card and have them count the buttons on each snowman. Then, they will identify the number on the worksheet and color it in. This is such a fun way to teach toddlers to recognize numbers and learn to count.

If your little learner is older or a stronger mathematician you can extend on this for extra number learning fun. Help your toddlers practice counting skills by arranging all the numbers in the correct order at the end of the number hunt. You can also dig deeper by asking them questions such as what number will come next?

Old MacDonald’s Pig Corral

This is one of our favorites! It’s perfect for teaching numbers to toddlers. While practicing counting skills, toddlers will also build gross motor skills as they gather balloons (pigs) from around the room and put them in the corral.

Preschool farm activities coral pigs and sheep balloons into their pins

Play or sing “Old MacDonald” while you gather pigs for extra learning fun. Then, count all the pigs you have rounded up. Read more about how to play this fun game in my farm theme lessons.

Counting Birthday Candles

My toddlers are obsessed with birthday cakes! The wooden birthday cake toy from Melissa & Doug makes it easy to have fun with cake all the time. You can use this fun toy to teach numbers to toddlers too. Host pretend birthday cake parties for stuffed animals and have kids add the correct number of candles to the cake. We make a big deal out of counting the candles as we sing “Happy Birthday” to our stuffed friends too.

Counting Fish Game

Kids love this fishing game and it presents a unique opportunity to teach numbers to toddlers too. You can help your toddlers practice counting skills by counting the fish you catch in this fun game. Plus, it’s a great way to build important fine motor skills and finger muscles for handwriting with your toddlers.

number math game for kids

Want more math practice using this game? Be sure you check out my math Let’s Go Fishing review activity for more number fun.

Counting at Snack Time

My toddlers love helping in the kitchen. Letting kids help serve snack can be another opportunity to practice numbers with toddlers. Have kids count as they serve small snacks like grapes or crackers to be sure everyone has the same amount. Teaching numbers is easy and fun when you build it into your everyday activities with toddlers.

Counting on the Playground

Teaching numbers to toddlers on the playground is one of my favorites. You can make learning numbers with toddlers lots of fun outdoors. Begin by jumping or hopping. Count how many times you can jump in a row. Play fun games like hopscotch to teach numbers to toddlers or organize an outdoor obstacle course with numbered activities. Play counting games like Mother May I or have kids count how many monkey bars or slides there are on the playground.

teaching numbers to toddlers in fun ways with dice, chalk, and bean bags

One outdoor number activity we like to do is write numbers 1-6 on the ground with chalk. Then, we roll a die and count to see what number we rolled. After that, we add in gross motor work by tossing a bean bag onto that number.

This game can easily be adjusted for higher numbers by adding another dice and finding the sum. The possibilities are endless when you’re learning numbers outside with toddlers!

In Conclusion

Teaching toddlers to count and recognize numbers is so much fun! There’s no single right way to do it. Instead there are tons of great ways to have fun teaching numbers to toddlers at home and in the classroom. I hope all these fun books, songs, activities, and printables have given you lots of ideas for helping your toddlers learn numbers this year.

Share your favorite number learning fun in the common section. I can’t wait to read your ideas!

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