Skip to main content

1 to 10 for Tuesday: Number Identification, Values & Counting

I once heard a seasoned Early Childhood Educator talk about parents thinking their children "know" their letters or numbers because they can recite them (reciting them well and quickly). She shared that often when she would ask that same child to identify a letter or number, they could not or could only identify some, but not all. 

With that in mind, I wanted to do a game with my Wild Thing (toddler) that would reinforce not only counting, but would also incorporate number identification with counting and would demonstrate the value of numbers (i.e. demonstrating what 3 actually means). 

I set out 10 mostly clear and mostly glass containers from smallest to largest. The sizing of the containers was designed to help Wild Thing (he's 2 1/2) begin to understand number values - smaller number, smaller jar.

I labelled each container with its corresponding number, both with the number symbol and with the number spelled out. I would write the number and match it with its container, then Wild Thing would count the corresponding number of raisins and put them in each jar/container (also good for fine motor skills).

He liked looking in each container --I encouraged this to underscore what 6 looks like.
To reinforce counting and number values, we did the same thing again, only this time we added liquid to each container, adding the corresponding correct number of teaspoons of our dyed liquid. As we did this, we looked at the numbers on the paper and counted out each teaspoon added. Then, I would encourage him to look at the containers and notice what 3 looked like in comparison to 2, and so on. I also talked about which numbers and containers were bigger and which were smaller.

I often asked him to find a certain number for me. The major bonus came with clean up time, which he turned into a game deciding it was really fun to get to pick a numbered paper to give to me for clean up -- proudly announcing the number he chose. 

I like this activity a lot because we can build on it as he gets older and gains increased knowledge of numerical concepts. We can keep it fresh by coming up with different items to count into the containers and can explore different measurements. These types of containers could work for elementary school aged children learning about greater than and less than. (When I ran an after-school program, I noticed that greater than/less than presented a challenge for some students, and I think having the corresponding visual would really help).

Finally, inspired by Marnie at Carrots Are Orange and her Early Financial Literacy Series, I realized sized containers would be great for exploring coins and money value. Here's the basic concept, though I haven't had time yet for a full activity with Wild Thing.

Larger coin and dollar values would go in larger containers with the containers laid out in the appropriate order. What would be interesting is for kids to sort their coins and dollars and see when the order of the containers would need to change. For example, if they have 6 pennies, the penny container would move to the right of the container holding only 1 nickel because the 6 pennies would now be worth more than that single nickel. 

BOOK UPDATE - Recently got this book at the library and it pairs really well with the value/counting/number identification exercise, especially since the end of the book also really shows the difference between 1 and 5, for example. Plus, my toddler really loves the book - simple can be quite good. 

You might also like: 
10 Tips for Making Comic Books with Kids
Outdoor Mural Painting


  1. a very unique activity... i don't know that i've seen this one before. i like how you incorporated size in with number value! thanks for linking up to tip-toe thru tuesday.

  2. I LOVE this idea and counting the teaspoons of water!

  3. A great way to introduce numbers - i like the idea of using larger bowls to show increasing value.

    Thanks for sharing on Family Frolics.

  4. This is fantastic! I love the size of the jars increasing as the numbers increase. This post is so spot on. My three year old could "count" to five just before he turned one, no exaggeration. Of course he wasn't actually counting. He was repeating what he heard his brother say.

  5. We did this one a while ago with plastic containers:

  6. Great idea - you're so right that children can learn to say the numbers without having any physical sense of what they mean.

    We have a special focus this week on maths and number posts at the Empty Your Archive link party, and I would absolutely love for you to link this up, Alice @ Mums Make Lists x


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Happy Very Hungry Caterpillar Day: Celebrating 45 Years with Caterpillar and Butterfly Crafts from The Kid's Co-Op

March 20th is Very Hungry Caterpillar Day with celebrations and programs being held around the world to honor the 45th Anniversary of the book. 

We love The Very Hungry Caterpillar, so of course we're joining the fun. Plus, my youngest son's blog nickname is Caterpillar, after the book. Just as Wild Thing is my 4 year-old's nickname inspired by Where the Wild Things Are. 

Today, we'll be doing another Very Hungry Caterpillar Food Drive. We did our first one for Eric Carle's birthday last June and called it a Very Hungry Caterpillar Virtual Food Drive and loved hearing that the virtual part worked, as others were inspired by our online shares and also did VHC-inspired food drives.

P.S. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Virtual Food Drive post 
also features 40+ Activities Inspired by the Book, so you'll definitely want to check it out.
For our VHC-inspired food drive this time, Wild Thing will be helping me write the grocery list for food items to donate as we read the boo…

{A Season of Giving} 12 Days of Christmas: Celebrating through Giving

Stacy (the Great) of Kids Stuff World brought to my attention the 31 Days of Service/Giving Calender (and great e-book) from Mom It Forward. 

Having gotten to know Stacy really well through our joint Moms Fighting Hunger effort during Hunger Action Month, I was all too happen to jump on board and take on 12 Days of Christmas, the action prompt for Dec. 4th.

The e-book describes the prompt in this way:
Choose another family in your area to be the recipient of 12 days of gift giving. Try to think of a family that may be struggling financially, emotionally, or with health problems and might need a boost during the holiday season.E ach day, starting December 13, leave a gift anonymously on the doorstep of your chosen family. Involve the kiddos in your secret acts of service. Your gifts can relate to the “12 Days of Christmas” song verses (i.e. partridge in a pear tree, turtle doves, French hens, etc.) but it’s not necessary. Try to choose or provide handmade gifts, drawings or tre…

Ten for Tuesday: Activities for Fire Prevention Week

October 7-13 is Fire Prevention Week, so I am sharing 10 Fire Safety Crafts, Activities, and/or Books to help kids learn about fire safety and to encourage them to have some fun too! At our house, fire trucks and fire fighters always get Wild Thing excited so engaging with some new activities was a lot of fun.

1. Get Inspired through Books - We loved reading Alphabet Rescue and creating a fire truck from a juice box that we drove our letters around in, just like in the story. I have loaded up our library list with many of these other fire truck and/or fire safety books. Felix the Fire Engine gets great reviews and No Time for Flashcards has a comprehensive list of 20 firefighter books. I also have to share this great PreK Fire Safety Pack from Royal Baloo!

2. Make a Shape Fire Truck - We previously shared this great one from No Time for Flash Cards and here is another one from Teach Preschool.

3. Abstract Art Fire Trucks - Using red, black and yellow tape, Teach Preschool shares som…