Teaching Numbers to Young Kids: Ideas for Parents

You can start teaching numbers and counting when your child is still a baby. Counting is the first step toward enjoying math, so you can help your child learn by making it easy and fun. Read on for some ideas.

Find available tutors

How Can I Make Numbers Fun for My Young Child?

Counting with Babies

Parents often naturally teach their babies to count by using fingers, toes, noses, eyes and ears. Expand on this by counting things everywhere you go with your baby or child, including cars, trees, flowers and people. Even if your baby is too young to join in, he'll enjoy the game and begin to learn numbers painlessly.

You can incorporate many counting rhymes that have been recited for generations, such as One Potato, Two Potato; One, Two, Tie My Shoe or Five Little Monkeys. Some of these have finger plays to add to the fun, and many also have music.

Learning through Books

Kids, including toddlers, love to read books with parents, siblings or grandparents. There are a number of books that teach counting and number recognition for very young kids, including Let's be Silly with Jae, Counting Numbers by Charyn Eagan and Little People Numbers with Teacher Terry by Fisher-Price.

Some books are even designed as stacking games or dry erase activity boards. Two good examples of these are Learning Block Books: Numbers, Colors, Shapes and Animals by Susan Estelle Kwas and Board Dudes Dry Erase Activity Book - Letters, Numbers, Shapes & Games by Board Dudes.

Using Objects

Young children often learn best with hands-on, interactive activities. When you're teaching numbers to your child, you may want to let her work with small objects that can be used for counting, such as dried beans or buttons. Ask her to count out a certain number and then show her how the number of beans or buttons matches up to a written number. For example, if she counts out three objects, she can match them up to the number three.

An abacus is also fun for learning to count and can later be used as a calculator. Magnetic numbers can be used on the refrigerator door or a cookie sheet. Toys are made that help little ones learn to match colors and numbers, such as Little People Builders Build 'n Carry Matching Numbers by Fisher-Price.

Finding Internet Resources

You can find a large assortment of free, printable worksheets from websites such as KidZone (www.kidzone.ws). These activity sheets give your child numbers to trace and pictures matching the numbers to color. By using these pages, your kid can work up to being able to do connect-the-dot pictures. Games for matching numbers and pictures are also enjoyable activities for young kids.

There are number of free games on the Internet that children as young as three can play, such as PrimaryGame's Fishy Count (www.primarygames.com). Counting games from Curious George, Sesame Street, The Electric Company and other TV shows are available at PBS Kids (pbskids.org).

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

  • More Blog Articles
    Understanding Prime Numbers

    Prime numbers are positive integers that have fascinated people for thousands of years. If your child struggles to grasp prime numbers, it may help to gain a deeper understanding of how they're defined. Your child may also benefit from knowing how to identify them and how they're useful in nature.

  • More Blog Articles
    Obesity Targeted by Task Force in Tennessee Schools

    Numerous studies show the ill effects that being obese or overweight have on health. So if you're near the bottom of the 'most-obese states' list, it's likely time to do something about it. When Tennessee found itself in that spot, it began its fight to shed pounds with the formation of the Tennessee Obesity Task Force. Are the...

We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In

Huntington Learning

  • What Huntington Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • One on one tutoring
  • Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
In-Center and Online


  • What K12 offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
  • AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Online Only

Kaplan Kids

  • What Kaplan Kids offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Customized learning plans
  • Real-Time Progress Reports track your child's progress
Online Only


  • What Kumon offers:
  • In-center tutoring
  • Individualized programs for your child
  • Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
In-Center and Online

Sylvan Learning

  • What Sylvan Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
  • Regular assessment and progress reports
In-Home, In-Center and Online

Tutor Doctor

  • What Tutor Doctor offers:
  • In-Home tutoring
  • One on one attention by the tutor
  • Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
In-Home Only


  • What TutorVista offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Student works one-on-one with a professional tutor
  • Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations
Online Only

Our Commitment to You

  • Free Help from Teachers

  • Free Learning Materials

  • Helping Disadvantaged Youth