How do you teach numbers to a toddler?
As I sat at my dining room table watching my toddler make a mess of the oatmeal I had given her, I thought about the things she’d need to know to become a well-rounded adolescent. I had taught her the alphabet and she was learning to read but that wasn’t enough. She needed to learn her numbers so that she could learn to count and eventually do math – but where to start?
Honestly, I wasn’t 100% sure but I had to take action or I’d succumb to decision paralysis. So, I began (admittedly fumbling at first) and I successfully taught my toddler numbers one through 100.
Here you’ll find the resources I used to teach my toddler numbers.
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Teach Numbers To Toddlers
Invest in Number Books for Kids
Can you imagine trying to describe a pineapple to someone who has never seen one? Even now, I know that my description would be pitiful. That’s why showing is better than telling, especially when it comes to educating toddlers.
Number books for kids are great at showing children numbers and corresponding objects. I have purchased several yet our favorite is One Leaf, Two Leaves, Count With Me!; it was sent to us for free by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, find out if you qualify because it’s a great program.
We love the book because it is simple yet helps with several lessons including numbers, seasons, counting up, and counting down. Plus, the graphics are adorable.
Another we adore is Goodnight Numbers by Danica McKellar (numbers 1-10).
Related: 10 Must-Have Counting Books
Watch Number Songs on YouTube
YouTube is the one-stop-shop for free number songs for kids. Here is a number song that helps toddlers count from 1-20. I go for videos that are less than five minutes because of the way my daughter’s attention span works…
Stalk The Target Back-To-School Section
Psst…I’m talking about that entry area of Target that catches an extra $5 minimum from me during every season’s product launches. It’s where I have found several low-cost resources to help me educate my toddler at home.
Among the dozens of purchases, my favorite for teaching numbers is a glossy flip board with plain numbers on a white background.
(Personal photo of Target whiteboard)
We use the page weekly for number recognition, counting, and math. We began with one row at a time, learned 1-30, and then skipped to teaching multiples of ten. If you can find a similar board, try it out.
Play Family Number Games
My husband enjoys trivia and board games and now that our daughter can count, he was able to dust off our dusty, dice-popping, Trouble game.
We have the traditional version but this Paw Patrol version is cute!
Other kid-friendly board games that require number recognition and/or counting include:
- Uno (card game)
- Lakeshore’s Find The Number (numbers + fine motor skills)
Use Household Objects + Quality Number ‘Toys’
It probably didn’t take you long to figure out that not all toys are worth our time or money. Some break easily, some are too small, others are just flimsy.
You can use number toys like medium-sized magnets, wood numbers puzzles, wooden dice set, toys that I label with numbers, and child-safe objects that you have around the house (toddler dinnerware, cupcake pans, etc).
These blocks are great for letter numbers and pictures. We love them and I never worried about them being a choking hazard!
Once a child can open a pantry or refrigerator, they are in front of them frequently.
Wood Number Puzzle
Puzzles are great for number recognition and fine motor skills. My kid loves all kinds of puzzles.
Wooden Dice Set
Idea: We skipped the kid’s department for this purchase and bought a large adult dice set.
I use a plain large desk calendar but a large acrylic calendar is on my wish list this year. It’s a great way to count the days of the month.
Invest in Number and Counting Printables (psst…You can use them on digital devices)
Sometimes, I don’t find what I think would be a great resource for teaching my kid how to count and do math so I create printables. I enjoy creating printables because they are a reflection of exactly what I imagine would help my child learn numbers best. Then, I get to try it out.
Below are my favorite number printables. I print them out or allow my daughter to work on them on a touch screen device.
Tip: If your toddler is not ready to write, skip the tracing or consider using cotton swabs and paint to ‘trace’ the letters.
How to use kid-friendly printables on your touch screen devices:
- Download the PDF file to your device.
- Use your devices editor.
These are the things I’ve done to introduce numbers, encourage counting, and begin teaching basic math. The journey isn’t over and I’m dreading the calculus stage but we’re making progress and that’s what matters the most!
Photo Credit: LightFieldStudios from Getty Images via Canva
What are you doing to teach your kid numbers and counting?