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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

5 Great Ways To Teach Numbers To Your Toddler

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Caroline just turned 2, and she's very interested in learning numbers and counting at the moment. She learned the alphabet (uppercase letters) about 6 months ago, and decided to work on colors and shapes next. Now that she knows her colors and shapes, she's moved on to numbers and counting! It is simply fascinating to watch her learn and to see what her interests are.

I'd like to start this post by saying that I like to follow Caroline's lead. There is obviously no need for a 1.5 year old to learn the alphabet...but if she's interested, why not teach it!? They absorb like little sponges at this age, and are so eager to learn more and more and more!

Caroline was really interested in the alphabet when I started showing it to her. She ran with it and even asked me to quiz her! I introduced some focused play (very short at the time), and she kept asking to do it again, so we did!

She moved on to colors and shapes quickly after and decided she didn't want to practice the alphabet any longer. So guess what? We don't do much with the alphabet at this point. Every once in awhile she gets her alphabet puzzle out, but it seems pretty apparent that she feels as though she's mastered it and prefers to move on.

She had a blast showing me that she can now say all of the letter names as well as identify them, however! She enjoys learning through play as I think most toddlers do. We never force anything, but if she's interested we take that interest and run with it.

She loves learning about the world around her, and if she's interested to learn about something like the alphabet, there's no reason not to teach her.

When she moved on to learning colors, it was mostly just through conversation. She enjoyed pointing out different colors to me. She likes to "show off" her knowledge. Just like she did when she was learning a new skill like sitting, she makes sure I'm watching or listening and gets a huge smile on her face when I tell her she's right!

The only real organized and focused activity we'd do with colors, was to get out several different objects and sort by color. It was mostly me doing it and her watching. I wanted her to see that the ball, block, and blanket were all considered orange, etc.

She's still very much in a phase where she's pointing out all of the colors, indicating if it is dark or light, and even telling us when things "match". If her shirt is blue and Mama's is too, she says that we "match". Cutest thing ever! She now enjoys sorting colors all on her own if I give her the idea!

Numbers never seemed to be of interest to her. Now that she's put together that counting goes hand in hand with numbers, she's interested, however.

Here are some activities that she's really enjoyed:


1. Counting to ten: Caroline really enjoys saying the numbers out loud. I say each number as I count to ten, and she repeats after me. We do this a lot in the car! She's showing me that she knows how to say the names of the numbers and she really enjoys being able to talk so much now!

2. Counting on her own: Instead of repeating after me and showing me that she knows the number names, she also enjoys showing me that she knows the order of the numbers. After we do the above activity, I sometimes ask her to go first. She counts first, and I repeat after her so she can hear the number and get confirmation if she was correct. She has counted all the way up to 10 on her own, but doesn't yet consistently do so. 

3. Number identification: She never had much interest in this until I came up with a fun game. She has a number puzzle that hardly gets used, and number flashcards that she is very uninterested in. Odd because she loves all of her other puzzles and flashcards! Since she loves to jump, I decided to incorporate physical play and numbers. Here's what we did:

  • Arrange flashcards in a circle with numbers 1-10
  • I then asked her to find a number
  • When she'd found the number, she had to jump over the card into the middle of the circle

She found this game to be so much fun. She would practice saying the name and finding the number. I kept the numbers in order for now, but once she gets more comfortable, we'll take them out of order.

4. Counting random objects: This is one that we do a lot when we are reading. We count and point to things in the book. For example in The Very Hungry Caterpillar book, we count the food and point to each orange instead of just saying how many there are. We count the dogs in Go Dog Go, etc.

5. Talking about numbers: Every night before bed, Caroline was requesting "2 more kisses". We'd give her a kiss, and say "one", then give her another and say "two". Once she became bored with 2, she started requesting 3! She notices when she has 2 blueberries left on her plate, etc. She loves talking about numbers now and incorporating it into natural discussion all on her own.

Products we love learning numbers with


- Lift the flap Numbers (Usborne book)- This used to be a FAVORITE book, long before Caroline even had a concept of numbers. Now that she's taken an interest to numbers we will be getting this book out again. It is fantastic for learning numbers and counting. Each page has them learn the skill in a slightly different way. I think she'll really enjoy this in a whole new light now. The teacher in me loves the scaffolding that this book provides, and it is by far my favorite learning book so far!

- Number Flashcards- As I mentioned above, we are creating physical movement games using number flashcards. For now we are finding a number, and jumping over it. Soon we might change this up and have her jump x number of times, or run around the circle that many times, etc. So many fun things we can do with this!

- Number Puzzle- Caroline really does love puzzles, and while she hasn't taken to the number puzzle much, I think she will once she feels comfortable with number identification more. She really does like to show off her skills once she's learned something, so I think this puzzle will be a favorite at that point! So, for now, we just keep it around for her to use if she would like to.

- Big Button Number Fun- This is a product that I am so excited about! My sister sent this to Caroline for Christmas, so we haven't tried it out yet...but Mama took a look! It not only provides a fun way to do counting and number recognition, the buttons are all different colors and shapes. I know Caroline is going to have a great time showing me her knowledge of colors and shapes, and she's going to be learning numbers in the process. Seems like SUCH a great find!

Readers: Please tell us your awesome number teaching ideas in the comments! I know I'd love to hear some great ideas, and I'm assuming my other readers would as well! Any fun apps, products, or games? Let us know!


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Hey guys! I'm Katrina (aka Mama)! I love country music, snuggling on the couch with our dog, and playing with our daughter. I am a fibro warrior, a former chemistry teacher, I love watching college football (go aggies!), and I love being a SAHM. Connect with me on Facebook for more adventures!

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