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How to Teach Numbers to Young Kids

Updated on March 11, 2015
Felisa Daskeo profile image

I am a certified teacher and have been tutoring young children for more than 30 years. I am sharing my experience in the tutorial business.

Teaching Numbers

Teaching numbers to very young kids is fun. Kids love numbers. They love to count and they love to show their age using their fingers but it is rare to see young kids telling you that their name begins with A or J. In short, children learn numbers easier than the letters of the alphabet.

Let’s start with the lesson now.

First of all, you have to introduce the numbers to the children so that they will know what a number is.

Using a poster that the children will use for counting is good in that they will not only learn how to count but they will be able to recognize numbers.

Give each child a number poster. Say: “Today children, we are going to count. Follow after me.”

This exercise must be a daily routine. After the songs or rhymes, you let the kids recite the alphabet then let them count.

For the very young kids, you can let them count 1to 10. The older kids can count 1-20. After a month you can increase the numbers by ten so let them count 1-20. You can limit the counting numbers to nursery to up to 20 only so that they will memorize the number. The kinder pupils can count up to 50 and the prep can count up to 100.

If the kids will count every day it will be easier for them to understand what numbers are all about.

This exercise is for oral counting only. The rest of the number lessons will follow.

The Number 0:

Zero means nothing so the children might be confused what 0 means because most kids are well versed only with counting 1-10.]

The best way to introduce 0 is to present to the children an empty jar, box or any container. Ask the children if they can see anything in the container. Of course their answer will be no, so you explain to them that there is 0 object in the box.

Give more examples and let the children see what 0 means.

Number 1

The next lesson is number 1.

When you teach number 1 to the young kids, it is important to introduce first the number using a flash card.

Say: “Today children, we are going to learn about number 1. When you count, the first number you say is 1.”

Flash the picture and tell the children to say 1. Then let each of the kids read the number one by one. This activity will help them recognize and understand what number 1 is.

Use this number train to motivate the kids.

After introducing the number, you can now use visual materials for the children to count. Using real materials is often better because the kids can relate more to them. For example, you can use fruits, books, pencils, pens, crayons, balls, stones and many other things for counting.

Start by saying: “Children, look at what I am holding. How many apples can you see?”

The children will answer.

Praise the kids by saying: “Very good, children. Now, here’s another fruit. What fruit is teacher holding?”


“How many avocados are there?”

The children will give the right answer. I’m sure the children will answer correctly now.

Continue showing other objects. Limit it to at least 6 objects before proceeding to the next activity.

The method done above will all apply when teaching all the other numbers: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Here are some activities for teaching numbers.


Games can help the children understand the numbers better. Any game is a good game for as long as you explain how the game is played.

Here’s an example:

Open the Basket

Open the basket is a game where the kids group themselves into different numbers according to what the teacher will say.

The first step is to let the children stand individually. The teacher will start by saying:

“Teacher says, group into 2s.”

The children will then run and get a partner. The one without partner or those who grouped themselves incorrectly will be out from the game.

You can let the kids group themselves in 3s, 4s, 5s until only two or three are left. Giving the winners a price can motivate the kids to participate more in activities.

Counting objects

Counting is an interesting lesson for the kids. They can have fun too counting objects. The kids can count big buttons, stones, Popsicle sticks, straw, small plastic fruits or vegetables, and blocks.

Give each child a box to put the objects then they can count the objects by themselves. Make sure that you go around and find out who cannot count so that you can guide them through and make them understand how to count.


Learning is more effective if you provide the kids with a lot of paper work activities. The more the kids do, the better,

Directions for worksheets when teaching numbers.

  • Color the sets with 0 object (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, etc.).
  • Color the box that has 0 objects.
  • Color the correct number of objects.
  • Color the set that matches the given number.
  • Encircle the correct number that matches the given objects.
  • Box the number that matches the number of objects given.
  • Encircle the correct number.
  • Encircle the correct number of objects.
  • Match the number to the sets.
  • Match the number to the objects.
  • Draw the objects.

More About Numbers:

For younger kids you can teach them only up to number 20 but for older kids you can teach them up to number 50. The rest follows as they grow older and go to the next grade level.

The Numbers Before, Between and After

You can teach more about numbers by including the numbers that come before, between and after. This can be very confusing to the little kids; especially the number before. You have to explain to the children what a number before, between and after means.

Again, give the children concrete examples and let the kids memorize their numbers by reciting the numbers daily. That way the children will know their numbers well and it will be easier for them to know the number before, between and after.

Write the missing number in the blank.

The Missing Numbers

it is also important to teach the children about the missing numbers in a series of given numbers. This activity will train the kids to know the correct sequence of numbers. If they learn the correct sequence of numbers, then it is easier for them to know how to count properly.

Simple Addition

You can include simple addition to the number lessons of the young kids. The simplest way to introduce addition to the young kids is to set an example that will make them see and understand that addition is putting things together to arrive to a new number.

So you can use anything available in the room to explain how addition is done.

I use these things to teach addition to young kids.

  • Small balls
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Straw
  • Marbles
  • Seeds
  • Buttons
  • Pencils and pens
  • Books
  • Papers
  • Crayons
  • Toys
  • Lego

There are many things that you can use when you teach addition to young kids. The more presentation you make, the better the children will understand about addition.

Here are some activities to do for addition lesson.


Use the kids for the game. Let the kids group themselves together then put each group together and let them count themselves to arrive to a new number.

Activity Sheets

What directions can you use to make activity sheets for addition?

  1. Draw the objects in the box
  2. Write the numbers then add.
  3. Write the number sentence for the pictures.
  4. Write the correct answer in the box.

Draw the objects in the box.


After addition, you can now introduce subtraction. Explain to the children that subtraction is the opposite of addition so it is taking away or removing from the group.

You can do the same activities that you used in addition to teach subtraction.

Again, teach only simple addition and subtraction for the young kids. What is important is that they will have an idea what addition and subtraction are.

Write the number sentence.

© 2013 Felisa Daskeo


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