Preschoolers are at an age where they begin to recognise the world around them. They love to learn and soak information like a sponge, especially when play is involved. This list of 15 counting activities for preschoolers is highly centered around play.
We personally love any form of education when play is the core element. Being that we offer more of an untraditional schooling format for our kids, we choose to find creative and adventurous methods of learning key topics, such as numbers and counting.
Our daughter is quite a natural where numbers are concerned. She enjoys more mathematical or science-centred activities compared with English. She is already at the stage where she can count confidently to 20 and we are now working on activities which teach more or less, adding and subtracting.
Our son, however, can recognise all numbers up to 10, but when it comes to counting, jumps from 3 to 8. These activities have been incredibly helpful for him to, not only confidently know all numbers to 10, but improve his memory retention to the order of numbers 1-10.
Hopefully, you will have just as much fun as we have, using these counting activities to help your preschoolers learn and recognise numbers.
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Here are 15 Counting Activities for Preschoolers:
Actions are really fun when learning numbers and counting. Not only do they help preschoolers with numbers, but it provides an active activity to help them move their bodies, listen and respond to instructions.
For this activity, you just need enough space to move around and optional pen and paper.
If you choose to use a pen and paper, write one number on each piece of paper.
When you call a number out, you can hold up this piece of paper to help preschoolers associate the verbal with the written number.
For each time you call out a number, provide action at the same time for your children to complete.
For example, 3 jumps. Then your kids will need to jump and count three times.
Here are a few ideas for actions you can shout out for your children to do whilst counting:
- Run-on the spot and count to 5
- 10 Star Jumps
- Spin and count to 3
- Run around the room or garden and count to 4
- Skip and count to 2
- Curl in a ball and count to 7
- Lie down and count to 6.
Count and Sort Objects
This activity can be brilliant (especially for us parents to combine whilst encouraging our kids to tidy up!)
Any objects can be used, whatever your kids have already as toys. Perhaps they have soft cuddly toys, crayons they have been drawing with, or play animals.
Whilst tidying up and putting these toys away Encourage your children to count how many of each item they have e.g. 5 animals or 3 blue crayons.
Scavenger hunts are always appealing to kids. The idea of having to go and find different items wherever you are and racing to be the first to find them, preschoolers have so much fun doing this.
Not to mention, scavenger hunts can be adjusted to any environment and with any resources.
For example, we have carried out scavenger hunts in the park, woods, our garden, the house and all with different objects e.g. bugs we can find in the park, sounds in the woods, and toys hidden in the garden.
Scavenger hunts can make for a great counting activity. My children particularly enjoyed a number scavenger hunt we carried out around our estate. Before leaving our house, our kids had to list 8 different numbers for me to write down.
Then, as we went for a walk our children had to look at the numbers on each house. They had to say what the number was and then check their list for any that were the same.
This was great for them to focus and look for different numbers, verbalise each number, and then match numbers from different houses to their list.
For my kids, they can’t yet recognise numbers above 20, so it was good for practising saying numbers e.g. 2 and 5, then teaching them this is the number 25.
We gain so many uses from our blocks. Making houses, balancing towers, and creating our own mini-games such as a race track.
But blocks are an especially great resource for recognising numbers and counting activities. We quite like this block set as, not only does it come with different shapes and a large amount of blocks, but it also comes with different colours.
This way, when using blocks for counting, we can also use it to count up different coloured blocks or shapes.
We also created a chart listing the numbers 1-10 across two pieces of paper. I would then shout out a number, and our children needed to place that many blocks under the correct number on the paper as a counting activity.
After this, to double-check their number recognition, they would each have a car and would have to move the car to the number I shouted out, e.g. if I called out 5, they would have to move their car to the number 5.
Cubes provide another great visual alongside written numbers. If you aren’t as anal as me when it comes to keeping toys neat and tidy, you could write or stick numbers onto different cubes to aid counting. But, I couldn’t face doing that!
For this counting activity, our kids were told or given a number to create with their cubes. They had to attach the correct amount of cubes together. So if I gave them the number two, they would have to attach two cubes together.
A Scoop of Ice Cream
Our kids aren’t usually very responsive to worksheets, but they really love this counting activity that I created for them. And who isn’t motivated by ice-cream?!
The idea of this counting activity is for preschoolers to select how many scoops of ice-cream they want to add to their cone. Then, to match this with the correct number.
This activity is part of the number bundle available for you to download within the free Activity pack at the bottom of this post.
Count and Match Pictures
This is another activity I created for our kids with the aim of practising counting and placing numbers in the correct order.
Here you can see there are 10 different pictures, all with 1-10 items within each. Once they have counted the items in each picture, they can then find and match the right number. This counting activity focuses on the numbers 1-10.
This activity is included in the number bundle.
Songs are used a lot within nurseries for good reason. Kids respond to songs, chants, and rhymes really well as they are easy to remember and fun to do together.
Here are a few nursery rhymes you could sing with your children:
- 10 big fat sausages sizzling in a pan
- 5 little speckled frogs
- 10 green bottles
- 5 yellow ducks
- 1,2,3 dinosaurs
You can gain access to the words to each of these nursery rhymes within the counting and numbers activity bundle here.
1-10 Montessori Style
We only recently invested in this Montessori style counting resource but I already love it as it is so versatile.
We were able to use this with both of our kids at the same time and focus on different elements of counting.
Our son still needs support with counting, so we focused on one number at a time, taking the number and hoops off the stand. My son then had to count each hoop and find the right number to match.
Our daughter, however, confidently knows her numbers 1-10, so we focused on number bonds to 10.
With this counting resource, we were able to show the numbers as a sum e.g. 4 6 10. As the hoops are different colours, and each number is the same colour as a set of hoops, making it really visual to demonstrate number bonds.
Initially, I would lay out all of the hoops for the number 10, and then one other number e.g. 9. I would then ask Mae to place these hoops in a line above each other. This then made it very visual for her to see how many more hoops she needed to make 10, as you can see in the picture below:
Chalk Number Game
This game only requires the use of chalk and outdoor space.
Simply write different numbers on the ground spread apart from each other. You can then draw circles, clouds, or shapes as an example around each number.
Then, shout out a number to your preschoolers for them to run and jump on the correct number.
This can be a fun activity to combine with other topics such as learning colours, shapes, or more and less.
Similar to the activity above, if you have a whiteboard, no matter the size, you can write the numbers you are focusing on. Don’t write them all in one line, spread them out and in an unarranged order.
You can then call out different numbers for your children to find and circle.
Alternatively, I have included an activity you can print off similar to this, whereby your preschoolers can draw a circle around a number you call out.
If you have a spare egg box or cupcake cases lying around, this number sorting activity can be really good as a counting activity.
Write a number on the inside of each egg section or cupcake case.
Then, provide objects such as pom poms or marbles, where your children can count and place the right amount into each egg section or cupcake case.
If your preschoolers love painting, this counting activity could be ideal for them.
It does take a little bit of prep-work on your part, so to save you time, I have included a template for this activity within the downloadable bundle at te bottom of tis post.
Draw a couple of bugs such as a butterfly, caterpillar, and ladybird.
Then, offer a few different coloured paints for your children to use. For less mess, instead of finger painting you could also use cotton buds for this activity.
Finally, say a number for your kids to add that amount of spots to one of the bugs e.g. 5 spots on the ladybird.
Playdough is good for all kinds of learning from strengthening hand muscles to creating shapes.
But it’s also a great way to learn to count. We like to create each number by moulding the playdough. Then, creating different amounts of balls or shapes to match each number.
I have included playdough mats for the numbers 1-10 in the activity bundle downloadable on this page. Simply print and laminate each page so you can use them again and again with your kids.
Baking is a favourite educational activity for us in this household. Primarily because, week let’s face it, anything you bake you get the pleasure of eating afterwards.
We personally like to use these number cookie cutters. Whilst baking, kids can choose and select the number they wish to use. Then afterwards, you can set them the challenge to recognise the numbers of a cookie before they eat it.
You could go a step further and create each cookie number along with other cookie shapes to represent each amount. For example, making the number one cookie and one butterfly cookie. Creating a number two cookie and two heart-shaped cookies, and so on.
Another method we enjoy using to learn to count is by baking smartie cookies. Smartie cookies are ideal as you can practice counting as you add each smartie to a cookie.
We altered this slightly as my children know their numbers, with them choosing a number for each other. For example, my daughter would choose the number 4, and my son would have to count and add four smarties to his cookie, and visa versa.
Learning how to count and recognise numbers doesn’t have to be boring or solely via worksheets. There are so many activities you can use to teach your kids numbers.
This list includes just 15 counting activities for preschoolers.
For more activities, along with many of the ones listed here, be sure to download your number activity pack below.