All About Counting: Activity and Engagement List

April 28, 2022

Today’s blog post was creating using materials from Talking is Teaching, a campaign of Too Small to Fail.

Children begin to develop an understanding of math even before they can say number words out loud. Once they begin to say number words, they can begin to match the words to set size and then count the set (for example, “Look at the spoons. There are three! 1, 2, 3.”).

Adults can help children do this by helping them understand that a number word represents a specific amount. When waiting in line, say, “Let’s count the people in front of us. 1, 2, 3. There are three people in front of us. Then it’s our turn. How many people are behind us?” If your child answers incorrectly, instead of supplying the correct answer, say, “How did you get your answer? Let’s check if that’s right. Can you think of another way to solve that problem? Let’s count together.”

Below is a list of ways to incorporate numbers and counting into daily life. Simple interactions like the ones below can help boost children’s brain and language development, setting them up for success in school and beyond. You can download a PDF of the full list, plus other counting-themed resources, at the bottom of the page.

  • Shapes are everywhere! Go on a shapes hunt in your house and count how many squares, circles, and triangles you find in each room. Which room has the most squares?
  • When your child is experiencing big feelings like anger or frustration, help them through it with a simple counting exercise. Take a few deep breaths and count backwards from 5 to 1.
  • Playtime is the perfect time for counting. Build a tall tower out of blocks with your child. “How many blocks did we use? Let’s count them together!”
  • Count with your little one as you help them get dressed in the morning! How many stripes are on their shirt?
  • Children love to be big helpers at home! At dinnertime, have your little one help set the table and count how many plates, utensils, cups, and napkins you will need for your family.
  • Children find so much joy sharing about their day with us. Ask your child to tell you about 5 things that made them smile today!
  • Have fun finding things of different sizes and using words to describe them Ask, “Can we find something big? Humongous? Small? Tiny? Short? Tall?”
  • Go on a number hunt! Take turns pointing to and naming the numbers you see on signs, in books, or at the store!
  • When you go on a walk with your baby, count the trees, leaves, cars, or animals that you see.