Is your child learning how to count to 10? Excellent! The next step is learning what the written numbers look like (numerical digit). You need to start with activities that show numbers in the form of dice or domino pips (they use this method in school too). Pips are the spots on cards, dice, or dominos. Afterwards you can write the numerical digit (written number) next to the pips. The last step is to remove the pips and only have the written number. Below are some preschool math activities to help your child (2.5-5 year olds) continue counting and learning what written, numerical digits look like. The preschool math activities below are in order of when to offer them to your child for success. When your child has mastered the skill of identifying numerical digits, you can successfully play Chutes and Ladders as a celebration!

Preschool Math Activities

  • Dancing Chalk Circles: With chalk, draw circles in a round circle on the ground (pictured below). In each individual circle, draw pips how they would look on a die or domino. Ask the kids to stand on a circle. Turn on some music that they like and dance together around the circle. When the music stops they have to stop on the circle they are on. To get the music to turn back on they have to tell you what number they’re standing on. Play along too, so they don’t feel like they’re the only one practicing their counting.
  • Cheerio Counting: With dot markers, make domino pips. Write the numerical digit on the bottom so the child can start to make the connection. Offer the kids cheerios to count as they place them on each dot. Tell the child he can eat the cheerios after counting and filling the dots up!
  • Pompom Sorting & Counting: With plastic cups or bowls, tape on a piece of paper with the written numerical digit and pips. Then put out the correct amount of matching colored pompoms for each cup. Do the children recognize that sorting the pompoms by color also helps them count out the number of dots on the cup?

pompom counting

  • Felt Board Ice Cream Scoops: Purchase a felt board or make your own by gluing felt onto the outside of a clean pizza box. Make the felt ice cream scoops during nap time (pictured below). Cut out three to four triangular brown felt ice cream cones and use fabric paint to make crisscross stripes on them. Then, cut circular ice cream scoops out of many different colors of felt. On each write, with fabric paint, a number up to six. Also paint on the matching number of pips. Have the kids build an ice cream by putting the ice cream scoops in the correct order. Have an ice cream already on the felt board so that it demonstrates the activity.
  • How Many Frogs on a Lily Pad: Cut lily pads out of green foam paper (see picture at the top of the article for reference). On the lily pads write numerical digits and the matching number of domino pips. Put them out on a blue blanket or pillow to pretend it’s water. Make pompom frogs or purchase plastic frogs. Have the kids hop frogs from lily pad to lily pad, but only allowing the correct number of frogs on each. You could pretend that the lily pad would sink if there are more than four frogs on the number 4 lily pad. *Note: If you buy the plastic frogs, you can do this activity in the bath or a water sensory bin because the foam paper will float and the plastic frogs are light enough to sit on top.
  • Ladybug Counting Spots: Here is an art project for the kiddos. Have pre-cut ladybugs prepared with green leaves taped to their side. On each leaf write a numerical digit. Put out brown and black buttons. Are the children able to glue the correct amount of spots on each lady bug to match the numerical digit? When they’re dry, hang them up for continued counting and learning.
  • Match the Clothespin to the Number of Animals: Alright, here is the last of our preschool math activities. Cut a large circle out of cardboard or use a large paper plate. If you want, paint the cardboard circle in a lighter color such as white or yellow so it’s easier to write on. Divide it into eight pieces with a permanent marker. In each section, put an animal sticker or stamp, such as one penguin, two fish, three ladybugs, and so on. Then on eight clothespins write each numerical digit. Attach one clothespin to the correct section of the circle. Point out to the children that the number 8 on the clothespin matches the eight giraffes. Can they finish the rest?

Try each of these preschool math activities in the order presented above. See if each week your child is ready to move on to the following numerical digit activity. Is he starting to make connections between the written number and counting aloud? Act as his playmate and teacher as you engage with him and he learns through play!

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About The Author

Kelsey Dickson has over 15 years of experience working with children as a nanny, preschool teacher, and now a mother. She has her degree in Early Childhood Education and works for Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny as the eLearning Manager. Check out our online childcare classes, such as Baby Sign Language and Sleep Coaching 101! In her free time she enjoys gardening with her son, going for walks with her husband and dog, and discovering local wineries in New England.